Saturday, February 21, 2009

On the other hand...

So while Amazon is alone in terms of profits in 2008, the news is grim on the publisher's side: Simon & Schuster is reporting a 3% decline. Publisher's Weekly analyzes the situation, semi-justifying the declines by pointing out that 2007 included sale of a megahit in the form of the amazingly popular "The Secret". It's an interesting article.

Still, what's most interesting about this news is that it does to a certain extent counteract the news that Amazon has profited quite a bit in the last year. Obviously, Amazon is much more than just a book outlet and it's always been clear that book sales are not what keep the company afloat. And even knowing this, it's surprising to hear about publisher's difficulties selling.

Simon & Schuster was on track to have a solid year until the second week in October, when consumer concerns over the economy resulted in a severe sales downturn that, noted S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy, “continues to this day.”

What can be more revealing than quotes like this? It makes sense that a darkening economic situation would cause consumers to stop and think before they buy. And yet there's still something troubling to it. This implication that the book industry is perhaps not quite as stable as we'd like to think it is, and how it is, for the most part, dependent on precisely those readers who buy (or don't buy) books. None of this is new, of course; it's just reemerging now once again as the times grow dark. And even with declining sales, Reidy and Simon & Schuster try to look at the bright side - the megahits that are bound to come. There's still time to see what 2009 will bring.

1 comment:

  1. The downturn in book sales is hardly surprising given the current economic shrowd enveloping the entire known universe. Books to some are a luxury item, an extravagance that can be done without in times of financial belt tightening, and yet to others, books are their lifeline, their only means of escaping their lot in life, if only for a short while.
    Like every other enterprise at the moment, the book industry too will contract a little. Thats only natural in these economic times, but there will always be a healthy market for quality books.

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