More thoughts on the publishing industry, a bookseller’s view, and worry about the written word

Last night I watched the last episode of series three of Medium. Like any good series, they finished the story but they left a whole lot of plot lines unresolved. I wanted to know what would happen and was interested enough to go to the official NBC Medium site to see what plans they had. All I wanted was a quick ‘yes, there is more information’ or ‘no, there’s not’. But the bulk of the site is videos and the written information is pretty extraneous. I didn’t want to sit around all day watching videos in the hope that I might learn what I needed to know.

Then, this afternoon I read a thought-provoking article by Jim Huang, co-owner The Mystery Company bookstore, reflecting on 20 years in bookselling and how he views the publishing industry today. Jim was talking about mysteries, but everything he says could equally apply to science fiction and fantasy—with the one exception that at least SFF does number their series books, or at least until the series gets so big that the numbers are embarrassing.

I think Jim’s article is spot on, if a little depressing. I wrote recently about the future of books, and whether or not they will exist in the future and if so, in what form. I think we are on the cusp of some form of change, although I have no idea what, yet.

Some of that change has to be in the direction the NBC Medium site has gone. Less written word altogether, more videos and other media. You can see it on blogs, for example, which used to be written words. Then pictures appeared. Now a lot more video and audio is popping up.

I’d like to think that some of that change will be books, still printed (or ebooks), print on demand.

Change is inevitable. Change is often good. Let’s hope some of that change in the bookselling industry translates to a better distribution of mid-list books, and more money for mid-list authors, so they can make a real living out of it. Because although I love a good movie, nothing beats sitting down with a good book.

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