What About the Readers?

To get the right answers, you have to ask the right questions.

Book publishing has many conundrums to solve in the coming decade, and not a week goes by without a long, thoughtful article in some major magazine about the impending collapse of the industry and its myriad causes: ebooks, Youtube, greed, television, gaming, big advances, returns, amazon, pirates, the Decline and Fall of Civilization.

The articles all revolve around this central and troubling question: "How can publishing maintain its financial viability when fewer people are reading books? Especially when everyone wants everything for free?"

This is going to be a tough question for publishers to answer, but it misses a more fundamental question, which is: "What do readers want, and how can we best provide it?"

I don't mean: "What books do they want to read," but rather, "What can we do to help people read more books?"

Full article here.

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"I don't mean: "What books

"I don't mean: "What books do they want to read," but rather, "What can we do to help people read more books?""

Well surely one of the answers is 'give them the books they want.' If there is already a demand that is not being met, meet it! Deal with the people that are coming in anyway first (before they leave) then grab the people on the outside who can be enticed in.
If you alienate your existing 'customers' then you could lose what you already have.

Additionally, test that key assumption

"when fewer people are reading books?"

What reputable sources are there for that assumption? Certainly not NEA. Certainly not long-term statistical measures. Certainly not library statistics and book sales (consider: In 2008, a year of general economic pullback, U.S. book sales declined by a whopping 0.2%--that's one-fifth of one percent).

I certainly agree that libraries should keep existing patrons happy first...but maybe not assume that literacy is failing just because so many people with axes to grind write about it (a seemingly pointless gesture, if they're right).

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