Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Not a good sign...

I don't want to be in publishing at a smaller press, always looking up at Random House as the sign of the future. I'd like to think smaller, independent presses are sustainable, just as independent bookstores will survive in a community while box stores will eventually get too large and topple like a house of cards.

Having said that, Sara Nelson, in her Publishers Weekly column, talks about all the recent "speed chess" happening at RH (that's outgoing executive editor Daniel Menaker's expression for it). You can look up the details, but her conclusion is obvious and yet worrisome:
At worst, the piling on of new jobs to longtime staffers with already full plates is a form of downsizing; at best, it might be that Random, like most publishers, will soon move its emphasis from the acquiring/editing side of the business to the less sexy but increasingly important distribution and marketing side. Editors and authors will always matter—somebody, after all, has to create all that “content” that will be disseminated in forms perhaps not yet invented—but the focus these days is more on selling direct, on digital “product” and on POD.

This is bad news, folks, but Naomi Klein was talking about this kind of sea change in places like the sneaker industry years ago. More money for marketing, less for development. In this case, however, the authors could lose out more than ever, and of course, so could the readers. Ever wander a B&N looking for a good book, and instead find tons of copies of a few bad ones?

Just want to make sure we're all looking out for this trend...

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