I can't keep up with the changes in publishing. No one can, completely. By the time you formulate a question for an expert, your question is obsolete. My inbox fills daily with updates and news alerts about the publishing business. Sometimes it's mind-boggling, such as an article in a major trade magazine predicting that libraries have two to three years to figure out how to fit into the new, digital world or disappear altogether. (A world without libraries? Huh?) Just this week, Newsweek magazine, an American institution for 79 years, has given up its print edition and gone digital-only. Whether it will survive is in doubt but most industry insiders are predicting it will not. Traditional magazines and newspapers, as well as libraries, have been too slow in redefining themselves and their business model. They went through a phase that to me, at least, seemed like wishful thinking. The business of producing and selling books is fluctuating wildly, too, of course, although I've seen a more rapid embrace of the new reality among book publishers than newspapers and magazines. Of course, no one knows what will happen to independent bookstores, or even Barnes & Noble. I've reached the conclusion that staying informed is important, but it was taking up too much of my time. I'm setting aside the news about publishing and reading it one morning a week so that I'm not always dwelling on it. By stepping back from it, it's become more obvious that it's the middle-men - those who don't create content but are in the business of distributing and selling it - who are in trouble. Devices, gadgets, and platforms will come and go rapidly, but the one constant is that someone has to write the material in the first place. When my writer-friends and acquaintances fret about the chaotic times we are living through, I tell them what I've decided to do: Just keep writing.
One Author's Life
January 4, 2013