Monday, June 04, 2007

It's news but not news

Lissa Warren of Da Capo Press and Da Capo Lifelong Books has posted this article on the Huffington Post regarding the loss of book review sections. (As a sidenote, Da Capo needs to work on that website, it's a real snore.) Her point is that the hysteria around book review sections dying may make it seem like a new problem, but it's an old problem, but still a problem. No seriously, that's about it.

It doesn't make any leaps or bounds toward an answer, but it's good to keep the discussion in play. My partner and I got into a discussion about whether people are still reading, and I guess they are. From a publishing point of view, in terms of reading industry publications, one might think they're not, but that view is skewed by the big box stores that are never satisfied with their profits - they have shareholders to keep happy! they need growth! - and the justified grumpiness of some indie booksellers and librarians. But anecdotally, I think people are still reading.

Now people are clearly watching tv less and using the internet more, and this is creating a different kind of literacy. So the question becomes, what will this do for books and how should publishers prepare? Many suggest going wiki - including my friend from the ever-interesting University of Minnesota Press who, as galleycat reports, is doing a fun new wiki page for a new book called OurSpace. I was starting to see the way in looking at this page, but I still have reservations for this trend generally. And I'm not entirely on board with the Microsoft Reader gadgets just yet, though I know they're improving every year.

I'm still trying to figure out how to best play this heady mix of big box evil, online marketing, big tail theories, etc... Any suggestions are much appreciated.

1 comment:

weide007 said...


The aim behind that wiki page for OurSpace you linked to (thanks!) is precisely to create a kind of community around a book or a set of ideas. Something like this, without aspirations to replace the book but rather to augment it. I'd hate for books to be replaced by wikis, but the two could work together.