Face The Bafflement And Do It Anyway
Six months into 2012 and the publishing world is a confused and scary place. Pottermore has just about disintermediated all of us, while the Seattle wildebeest has everyone from James Daunt to James Bond in its thrall.
Agents from the Justice League have publishing executives under surveillance, while Mssrs Barnes and Noble are still looking for their passports so they can travel outside their Nook.
Bafflement is the new norm. The book market is traveling fast, and no we cannot get off.
On The Naked Book this week we were joined by three wise heads making sense from the morass.
Blogger Eoin Purcell said the industry was being reshaped by these new players. We must adapt or die. The one thing NOT to do, advised Eoin, was to piss off your readers, as the agency model did.
That’s ok for Eoin, he is from Ireland. Where things are happening more slowly, allowing everyone to ‘watch and learn’ what is happening everywhere else. Cheating, surely?
In the UK, the lessons are already already clear for bookshops, said Philip Downer, former chief executive of Borders UK. The chains are in real trouble, the indies might survive as specialists.
Joining from Manhattan, a world at least six months ahead of the rest, was PaidContent’s Laura Owen. “I’m a little baffled by the Waterstones deal with Amazon,” she admitted.
Aren’t we all. As Downer conceded. “The challenge with all the topics this evening is that this is a world in flux.”
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Photo by Michael Bentley