The Destruction of Publishing

It seems I can’t go a week without hearing about how the publishing industry is being destroyed.

Everyone seems to be in on it. Self-publishing is destroying publishing, Amazon is destroying publishing, the big 6 are destroying publishing with their celebrity books, and now The Nation tells me that “mergermania” is destroying publishing.

Mergermania in the publishing industry has been going on for at least a few decades. I remember a lot of hue and cry in the 1990s the mergers and acquisitions in the industry that were seemingly never going to stop. It’s actually slowed somewhat recently, but the announcement of the Penguin/Random House merger has brought mergers back to the forefront of the list of things destroying publishing.
But books are still being published, in greater numbers than ever before. People are still buying books, though an increasing number are buying digital copies, which cannot be lent or re-sold, which is going to change the used bookstore landscape as well as publishing.

Book publishing, at least as far as I can see, is going strong. It’s changing to be sure, but the Random Penguin merger isn’t going to destroy anything. At its worst it’s only going to affect a very few authors and agents. Perhaps there will be one less bidder on the table for Snookie’s next book.

The merger does not mean that either Random House or Penguin will publish fewer books. If the merger leads to cost savings, it could be that they publish even more.

The future of publishing isn’t bleak. It’s not certain what the publishing industry is going to look like in a decade, but I am certain that it’s still going to be around and thriving in some form.

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