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brokenfingers
11-11-2008, 08:44 AM
I was speaking to someone who works in the publishing industry today and they were telling me that Borders has been in financial trouble for a while, barely fending off bankruptcy, and with the latest economic news of the past few months, it looks like they’ll be going under. Right now they’re seriously cutting back on inventory as well as closing stores, but the prognosis is grim.

So there goes a major market for books.

They also told me that since Black October, publishing houses are laying off people and announcing massive losses and many imprints will be cut back or shut down.

So, if you think things were tough before, as far as getting published goes, you better bring out your “A” game, people.

So, any thoughts on the future of writing, publishing and the economy?

selkn.asrai
11-11-2008, 08:54 AM
I work at a BN, and it's suffering heavy fiscal losses.

aka eraser
11-11-2008, 09:01 AM
E-Pubbing anyone?

Shadow Dragon
11-11-2008, 09:03 AM
As long as people want to read books, there will be a market for it. It's just that Borders will get replaced by a different store once the economy picks up some.

Albedo
11-11-2008, 09:56 AM
Borders Australia is being bought up by our biggest chain, Angus and Robertson. This is a bit of a worry, because A & R is the Aldi of the bookselling industry: they believe that one book on each subject (like one product in each line) is enough. Borders at least had a good range.

cherubsmummy
11-11-2008, 10:03 AM
Borders Australia is being bought up by our biggest chain, Angus and Robertson. This is a bit of a worry, because A & R is the Aldi of the bookselling industry: they believe that one book on each subject (like one product in each line) is enough. Borders at least had a good range.

That's not news I wanted to hear. A & R are fine if you want a top 100 book, but the really interesting books are at Borders. :(

BenPanced
11-11-2008, 10:05 AM
Yeah, we lost two Borders within the last two years up here.

Funny, though. Bookstores up here are always crowded. Then again, the two that closed weren't at a "regular" mall where they experience the foot traffic of the (surprise!) one that opened just last year.

Y'know, I'm beginning to think I've answered my own question...

maestrowork
11-11-2008, 10:37 AM
Borders have been struggling for a few years now, even when "the time was good."

But publishers are saying this is going to be a grim holiday season. Expect only named authors and children's books doing well.

paprikapink
11-11-2008, 10:53 AM
I want a Kindle. Then any coffeeshop I go to can be Borders and Barnes and Noble and my local bookstore too.

But I can't afford to go out for coffee. A Kindle? HA!

What exists for us now may be drying up, self-destructing, disintegrating, stuff like that. There'll be a new thing before we know it.

Bartholomew
11-11-2008, 11:05 AM
Borders is not allowed to go under. I do my homework there.

MissLadyRae
11-11-2008, 12:31 PM
I think we're going to see a big shift in the way the publishing industry works on the surface. With the old model, it'll be interesting to see how things work on the assembly line from editing, marketing, distribution, release, etc. I heard a lot of cutbacks will be in process and the pub companies are going to take a closer look at which authors they'll hang on to and which they'll let go.

On the upswing, writers will always write. Voracious readers will always read. And even though the big companies may be shaky, there's always a way to share the art of storytelling. It just may turn into a more underground movement with the advent of e-books (hi-yo 'aka eraser'! :hi:), small press, PODs, audiobooks, podcasts books, etc. Things are going to get a whole lot more creative in how stories are being shared from authors/storytellers to readers especially during a time when escape is needed the most and is made available at a low cost. I'm already seeing a lot of this happening in the small press world.

Ooh and I just heard that A&R Melbourne just acquired the espresso book machine (planning for 50 more machines by next fall) and aim to make a lot of out-of-print and hard to find books available to readers. I'm hoping that's made available in more places across the world and can be used with ebooks. Just like I hope there's another ebook reader that's released that allows for audiobook capability. A LOT of readers are clamoring for this and the industry would really benefit from expanding on the technology enough to cater to all readers (not to mention keeping a close ear to what readers want and giving it to them). It'll open up a lot revenue I'm sure and I'm hoping it's not too late for such a movement. Both readers and authors will be most grateful.

CACTUSWENDY
11-11-2008, 12:36 PM
My thought is that when I have to pay $28.00 or more for a book, (hard copy), so have to wait for it to come out in paperback, and with the money being tight now, it's not a news flash that book stores are feeling the pinch. IMHO

Yes, people will still want to read, but may be more selective on what they buy. Maybe through all this prices will come down a bit.

It's like with cars. Hummers and SUV dealers may feel the pinch more and go under. People still need cars.

CatSlave
11-11-2008, 12:51 PM
I can't afford to buy new books, so I frequent the second-hand bookshops, Goodwill, Salvation Army and the like for my reading materials. Yard sales are good hunting grounds, as are estate sales.

I've built a fine personal library this way. You'd be surprised at the number of almost new hardback books, read only once, that you can purchase for a couple of bucks.

Mumut
11-11-2008, 01:27 PM
If Borders are taken over by A&R I'll be happy. A&R have been very helpful to me with book signings and their managers and staff are very helpful.

BarbaraKE
11-11-2008, 02:05 PM
Ooh and I just heard that A&R Melbourne just acquired the espresso book machine (planning for 50 more machines by next fall) and aim to make a lot of out-of-print and hard to find books available to readers.

Excuse me if this is a stupid question but - what is an 'espresso book machine'?

heyjude
11-11-2008, 05:58 PM
Actually I feel a little woozy now. Borders, huh?

Our local Borders barely gets any business. It's a ghost town. The nearby Barnes and Noble does better, since it's attached to the mall.

ITA with those who can't fork over $28 for a book. I need that $28 for groceries!

CaroGirl
11-11-2008, 06:12 PM
So, a single, probably mismanaged, bookstore chain is in financial trouble and it's the end of the world as we know it? I think not. Recovery will come. Let's try not to panic, shall we?

Nathan's solution: Buy more books!

http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/

scarletpeaches
11-11-2008, 06:15 PM
I don't believe it'll happen. For as long as there's people, there will be a readership.

ChaosTitan
11-11-2008, 06:49 PM
This link has been floating around, but EditorialAss has a good article on what went wrong in publishing in October.

It's worth a read.

http://editorialass.blogspot.com/2008/11/crash-flow-or-what-went-wrong-in.html

Oh yeah, BUY MORE BOOKS!!!

Writer14
11-11-2008, 07:10 PM
As long as Barnes & Noble stays open, I won't die if Borders shuts down. I'm more of a BN fan anyway

Higgins
11-11-2008, 07:36 PM
As long as Barnes & Noble stays open, I won't die if Borders shuts down. I'm more of a BN fan anyway

All the bookstores I go to regularly are doing fine. Oddly, none are chain stores and some are in basements near Harvard so they all must have claimed their not-very-profitable niches decades ago. And they are hanging on and still stuffed with books. Very nice ones. Very recent. Glossy, floppy, silky trade paperbacks. I hate dusty old hardback books.
I want something, flimsy, emphemeral and gaudy and scientific.

tehuti88
11-11-2008, 07:39 PM
So, a single, probably mismanaged, bookstore chain is in financial trouble and it's the end of the world as we know it? I think not. Recovery will come. Let's try not to panic, shall we?

Nathan's solution: Buy more books!

We haven't any big bookstores anywhere near where I live (just one little local bookstore), and I'm not seeking publication, but the thought of such giants going under is unsettling. :( I do hope they stick around.

I get most of my books nowadays through eBay (used/hard-to-find ones) and Amazon (now that they allow you to pay from your checking account).

CaroGirl
11-11-2008, 07:41 PM
We haven't any big bookstores anywhere near where I live (just one little local bookstore), and I'm not seeking publication, but the thought of such giants going under is unsettling. :( I do hope they stick around.

I get most of my books nowadays through eBay (used/hard-to-find ones) and Amazon (now that they allow you to pay from your checking account).
I guess because I'm not American, and not currently seeking publication in America, I find it less unsettling. But I see where you're coming from.

rhymegirl
11-11-2008, 07:50 PM
Maybe everybody on AW should buy books to give as Christmas presents.

Then all of us will be helping the publishing industry. Yes?

Susan Gable
11-11-2008, 07:57 PM
Oh yeah, BUY MORE BOOKS!!!

And, just to clarify, buy more NEW BOOKS. Because used books don't help authors or publishers stay in business.

I'm the first to admit, I love a bargain. But if we don't buy new books, with the understanding of how this business works, how can we expect nonwriters to understand how the business works and encourage them to support the writers they love?

I'm not saying you ONLY have to buy new books. There are times we ALL succumb to the draw of the remainders, the used books, the megabargain. (Gotta confess, I was in a discount store just last week, and I managed to pick up two new copies of some OLD romance novels, written by two authors I know and enjoy, for just .99 each. The authors didn't make anything from that sale, I'm sure. )

Just be aware, that's all. :)

Susan G.

ishtar'sgate
11-11-2008, 08:19 PM
I have to admit, I buy almost all of my books online. I like to read reviews before making a purchase unless the author is someone from AW or Backspace - then I just buy it. I'm busy and I don't like the hassle of fighting traffic and trying to find a parking space just so I can go inside a bookstore. I suspect online purchasing plays a big part in the problems experienced by brick & mortar bookstores.

rhymegirl
11-11-2008, 08:36 PM
I love going to bookstores. I feel very inspired to keep writing when I look at all those books. (I also get to see what the competition looks like.)

Yeah, I say we all do our part by buying new books. Isn't it similar to the movie industry? If people go out and see the new films that helps the film industry. Even though ticket prices have gone up, people still go see the new movies that come out.

RG570
11-11-2008, 08:50 PM
Closing chains doesn't mean anything. It just means that they became greedy and their revenue came from building stores and not selling books. It happens all the time and it catches up with everyone who tries it.

Books aren't expensive compared to other entertainments. I don't see a reason to panic.

Soccer Mom
11-11-2008, 08:56 PM
I've done my part to keep the industry afloat. I spend an absurd amount of money on books.

Red-Green
11-11-2008, 08:58 PM
What does it say about my previous hopes of being published that I don't feel one whit less hopeful now?

At any rate, check my avatar for my feelings about NaNo. :D

benbradley
11-11-2008, 09:21 PM
I can't afford to buy new books, so I frequent the second-hand bookshops, Goodwill, Salvation Army and the like for my reading materials. Yard sales are good hunting grounds, as are estate sales.

I've built a fine personal library this way. You'd be surprised at the number of almost new hardback books, read only once, that you can purchase for a couple of bucks.
You've been reading my blog, haven't you? :)

eyeblink
11-11-2008, 09:23 PM
And, just to clarify, buy more NEW BOOKS. Because used books don't help authors or publishers stay in business.

I'm the first to admit, I love a bargain. But if we don't buy new books, with the understanding of how this business works, how can we expect nonwriters to understand how the business works and encourage them to support the writers they love?

I'm not saying you ONLY have to buy new books. There are times we ALL succumb to the draw of the remainders, the used books, the megabargain. (Gotta confess, I was in a discount store just last week, and I managed to pick up two new copies of some OLD romance novels, written by two authors I know and enjoy, for just .99 each. The authors didn't make anything from that sale, I'm sure. )

Just be aware, that's all. :)

Susan G.

Seconded. I can't afford to buy too many new books (and I have far too many unread ones, which is another story). However, as I've come to know quite a few published authors, I'll make a point of using the library if I don't buy a book - in the UK at least, the author will still get some money from the library loan via public lending rights.

That's not to say that I haven't bought used books - I have.

SPMiller
11-11-2008, 10:18 PM
I generally buy older books used and new ones in trade paper or paperback. Only for certain authors will I splurge on hardcover.

josephwise
11-11-2008, 11:18 PM
I don't know. It doesn't seem like the burden should be placed on the consumer.

If Borders goes under, that's not the consumer's fault. That's Borders' fault.

And we, as writers, shouldn't be focused on supporting the industry with our money. We should be focused instead on producing excellent books. Books that other readers can't live without. Books that other readers can't wait to read, and the only way to get them is to buy them new, because the demand is so high. There are no copies left at the library. The waiting period is four or five weeks. The used book stores don't have any yet. But the reader MUST read it NOW.

If you can generate that kind of enthusiasm, you'll be doing more for the industry than if you spent every cent of your disposable income on new books. And you CAN generate that kind of enthusiasm. You, the author. The burden is yours.

MissLadyRae
11-11-2008, 11:53 PM
Excuse me if this is a stupid question but - what is an 'espresso book machine'?


Oh! It's a new sort of printing press that prints and bounds a book in 15 minutes (or sometimes 5-7 minutes).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espresso_Book_Machine
http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=JMFh5axDKWU

Prices go for about $30k for the machine from what I hear, for businesses looking to invest in one. The main market is libraries but they're slowly moving to specialty bookstores. The NY library (http://www.engadget.com/2007/06/21/new-york-public-library-gets-first-espresso-book-machine/) first got it, then the University of Michigan (http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=6735). I heard that at Dragon Con (or GenCon, one of them) there was one POD company with one in their booth where you could test it out and get a book in about 15 minutes or less. Now it looks like Melbourne has it (selling books for 20 AU). Books here are being sold for like 6-12 bucks.

mario_c
11-12-2008, 08:10 AM
I'm biased towards Borders, as I worked in one for over 5 years. Best McJob ever: shelve and clean stock (I worked in DVD/video) and chat and work the register. We did OK business in music and DVDs but the pinch from online competition was palpable. Hard to sell people something they can get for half price, if not for free, right at home.

Our store had the Cafe and a relaxed attitude towards browsing to bring warm bodies bearing cash downtown and into our store. Also, you could also pick up your online purchases at our store and save on shipping. It was the best of both worlds. The model was solid but people look at the Borders/Barnes and Noble stores as a luxury item, and that is what goes first when you can't get ahead financially. Of course, I guess toys like iPods and Nintendos don't count as luxury items for the average Joe anymore.
I hang out at these stores still (not the one I used to work at, because I need that quiet time) and it is indeed quiet in the downtowns around CT. And tense. But I would hate to think of these stores getting gutted for another electronics store. That really would be the end of my world.

TerzaRima
11-12-2008, 08:23 AM
Nathan's solution: Buy more books!


And when possible, from an independent bookstore. Keep the little guy going. I like B and N, but I'd much rather buy from a place like City Lights in San Francisco, or the Tattered Cover in Denver.

Bravo
11-12-2008, 08:40 AM
borders is probably my favorite hangout place ever. BN is better for studying (it's quieter), but borders has a better graphic novel collection, so that's where i go when i want to chillax.

i'll be very sad if it goes under.

although....i'm not too surprised since i barely ever buy any books from them.

benbradley
11-12-2008, 09:05 AM
And when possible, from an independent bookstore. Keep the little guy going. I like B and N, but I'd much rather buy from a place like City Lights in San Francisco, or the Tattered Cover in Denver.
Too many independents, both new and used, died as the big chains were growing. I especially miss two in Atlanta, "Oxford Too"[sic] was the largest (thus the best) used bookstore around until it closed circa 1997, and later the original Oxford Book Store (new books) closed - it was unique in many ways, one being that it was open Christmas day.

Nakhlasmoke
11-12-2008, 09:57 AM
I buy my books online. I'm nowhere near a new bookstore, and I have no transport.

Online shopping means I get to read reviews, browse without getting tired, and have my book delivered to my door. It's a win win for me.

jessicaorr
11-12-2008, 06:44 PM
I'm not shocked. Even when things were good the Borders was always dead compared to the B&N down the street. It is worrisome though. Even I've cut my book budget in half. I just can't afford to spend as much as I used to, and when I do buy it's through Amazon or eBay. Not good for the industry, I'm sure.

Cranky
11-12-2008, 06:59 PM
I buy almost all of my books online (it's hard trying to drag four kids through a bookstore without it becoming a debacle, and time to myself? Bwhahahahaha!), and the VAST majority of them are new, even the reference books.

That said, hubby and I agreed to spend only $60 on each other for Christmas this year. I have a list of twelve books I want to buy. Guess how many of those I'm going to buy new? One. Octavia Butler's Kindred. The rest (four are reference books, btw) will be bought secondhand.

I'm all for paying for new books wherever possible, but it's not the usual for me to have $60 to spend on books. I'm going to buy as many as I can. *shrug* I figure that I buy enough new books the rest of the time that I don't need to feel guilty about it.

tehuti88
11-12-2008, 07:42 PM
I have to admit, I buy almost all of my books online. I like to read reviews before making a purchase unless the author is someone from AW or Backspace - then I just buy it. I'm busy and I don't like the hassle of fighting traffic and trying to find a parking space just so I can go inside a bookstore. I suspect online purchasing plays a big part in the problems experienced by brick & mortar bookstores.

I wasn't even thinking about the difficulty my mainly purchasing online could cause brick & mortar stores like Borders, though I guess it makes sense. The problem is, "real" bookstores usually just don't have the books I'm looking for. I can't count all the times I've entered a bookstore looking for something specific and they didn't have it, usually because it's either an older title and out of print, or it's such an obscure subject that of course they wouldn't have the space or customer demand to warrant carrying it. And why go through the hassle of ordering it through them, waiting for it to arrive, and going back to the store to pick it up when I can just do it all online?

Hence why I've turned to eBay (for the out-of-print books) and Amazon (for the newer books that the bookstores won't pick up). We have our own bookstore in town, an independent, but I have little need to go there anymore. It's nice to set foot in a bookstore, but most of the things I end up buying are "impulse buys" because I just happened to be lucky enough to see something interesting sitting on the shelf. Nowadays it's rare to find something that I'm specifically LOOKING for. (And when I do find something I'm looking for, it's usually in a smaller bookstore which has the capacity to carry more obscure topics--I'm interested in local history, for example, and it's hard to find that in bigger stores that have to serve a bigger audience.)

There was a new book Amazon recommended to me a while back, and it was over a year before I managed to locate it in a bookstore! Nowadays I would just order it online and save the trouble of looking in stores that probably won't have it.

I entered a new bookstore I've never visited a couple of weeks ago, looked around, and left without buying anything--VERY unusual for me. But there just wasn't anything in there I was interested in. I found this rather saddening but it's becoming more frequent.

And that's the unfortunate reason why I don't shop bookstores much anymore. (That, and the fact that we are nowhere near a Borders or Barnes & Noble or anything. Oh. And that I can't drive. :o )

NicoleMD
11-12-2008, 07:48 PM
And when possible, from an independent bookstore. Keep the little guy going. I like B and N, but I'd much rather buy from a place like City Lights in San Francisco, or the Tattered Cover in Denver.

My office just moved locations and now we're within walking distance of my favorite indy bookseller, BookPeople (http://www.bookpeople.com/). My coworker and I walk there once every week or so just to "browse" but we always end up buying something. Can't get too much, since we have to carry our purchases back almost a mile, so that's good. (for the wallet, at least.) :)

And since all of my friends are popping out babies these days, I always get them children's books as presents instead of clothes they'll grow out of in three minutes.

Nicole

brokenfingers
11-12-2008, 09:13 PM
The pros and cons of buying online are all fine and dandy, but the OP was made, not from the perspective of a reader, but of a writer.

We, as writers, produce a product. We approach publishers in the hopes that they’ll mass produce that product, thereby satisfying our creative and material needs while satisfying the needs of our customers – the readers. In effect, become published.

In order for publishers to buy a product, they need a market. The larger the market, the better an environment for whatever you’re trying to sell. Large chain bookstores have replaced regular bookstores worldwide and now dominate the book market.

They are now folding. As a result, publishers, the people who buy your manuscript and publish it for the general public, have been losing large amounts of money and have been laying off personnel.

That’s less money for the printing of books, less money for promotion, less money to invest in new talent, less people sifting through the piles for new talent worthy to be published, less incentive to take on new writers.

A publisher can only publish a certain amount of books a year, which is part of the problem as far as getting accepted for publication. If they’re going to be publishing even less, than what does that bode for us writers seeking to be published?

With less personnel reading new manuscripts and guiding a book through the process from acceptance to on-the-shelf- publication, what will that do to the acceptance rate and wait times?

With less outlets for published books, and that’s new published books – the ones that make authors and publishers money, what does the future look like for aspiring authors seeking to be published?

The intent of the OP was to tell the aspiring writers here that if you thought it was hard to get published before, guess what? It’s about to become even harder.

You’re going to have to really hone your skills and polish your prose and finesse your story. You’re going to have to make your story even more unique and intriguing. You’re going to have to make your writing really stand out and shine. You’re going to have to be even more patient and willing to slog through hours and hours of personal hell with no thought of gain or reward.

In this current climate, which is not conducive to profit for writers or publishers, you cannot rely on your writing eventually becoming a career or money maker (though I know the majority of us here don’t, still we all dream.)

So, my question:

Does this daunt you? Cause doubt? Make you want to throw it all up in the air?

Or does it fire you up? Cause you to try harder, be better, seek out that story that people can’t help but be curious about once they hear the first sentence?

Or do you not care? Are you unaffected by any of it? It doesn’t bother you at all or cause you to change anything in the way you approach writing and, I assume, publication?

What are your thoughts as a writer?

Alpha Echo
11-12-2008, 09:36 PM
It's like with cars. Hummers and SUV dealers may feel the pinch more and go under. People still need cars.

Ah, but are Hummer and other SUV dealers going under? From my understanding, it's the big 3 that are having problems.


As long as Barnes & Noble stays open, I won't die if Borders shuts down. I'm more of a BN fan anyway

Me too.


Maybe everybody on AW should buy books to give as Christmas presents.

Then all of us will be helping the publishing industry. Yes?

I think all my presents are going to be books this year! Books and cookies! Great idea!


I have to admit, I buy almost all of my books online. I like to read reviews before making a purchase unless the author is someone from AW or Backspace - then I just buy it. I'm busy and I don't like the hassle of fighting traffic and trying to find a parking space just so I can go inside a bookstore. I suspect online purchasing plays a big part in the problems experienced by brick & mortar bookstores.

Me too.


The intent of the OP was to tell the aspiring writers here that if you thought it was hard to get published before, guess what? It’s about to become even harder.

You’re going to have to really hone your skills and polish your prose and finesse your story. You’re going to have to make your story even more unique and intriguing. You’re going to have to make your writing really stand out and shine. You’re going to have to be even more patient and willing to slog through hours and hours of personal hell with no thought of gain or reward.

In this current climate, which is not conducive to profit for writers or publishers, you cannot rely on your writing eventually becoming a career or money maker (though I know the majority of us here don’t, still we all dream.)

So, my question:

Does this daunt you? Cause doubt? Make you want to throw it all up in the air?

Or does it fire you up? Cause you to try harder, be better, seek out that story that people can’t help but be curious about once they hear the first sentence?

Or do you not care? Are you unaffected by any of it? It doesn’t bother you at all or cause you to change anything in the way you approach writing and, I assume, publication?

What are your thoughts as a writer?

My thoughts as a writer...well, it does make me sad. You're right - though I don't write with the intent of ever really being able to quit my day job, I do dream about staying home and writing fulltime. It makes me sad that something like books are suffering from the economy. I know that everything and everyone is affected, but books?

And it's a little scary, but I don't think I can work any harder. What I mean is, I am always putting all I can into my writing. I write, I learn, I write better, and I keep going. I query, and query, and query, then I query again and write some more. Everytime I write, I write my best at that moment. Then I learn more, practice more and write better. That's what I do now, that's what I've always done, and whether or not things get harder, that's what I will continue to do. So really, this has no effect on me.

I love to write. I can't NOT write. However, my life's happiness isn't based on publication. Though that is my career dream or goal, it does not consume all parts of my life. So I tredge on, say a little prayer and cross my fingers and hope that next time I query is the one that snags an agent.

Phaeal
11-12-2008, 10:49 PM
I expect that the ease and relative cheapness of distributing intellectual properties via the Internet will eventually make the Internet the dominant market for books, music, films, etc. The process is already well underway. This is a good thing, as the Internet can reach niche markets with ease and take on far more writers than "paper and ink" publishers can. Will save trees and energy, too. The economic crash should speed this process.

I also expect that paper books will become more of a luxury, but that they'll survive for those of us who love them as objects.

I buy a book almost every time I go into a bookstore. Bought one from Borders yesterday, also routinely buy them from Books on the Square, a fine Providence independent. Amazon I use more for DVDs and used books, via Zon's network of independent bookstores. Got several books from Zon and friends on the way right now!

The Borders I go to is always packed, and there's usually a line at the cash registers. But this is a big college area, with lots of us intellectual elite around. ;)

willietheshakes
11-13-2008, 05:32 AM
Before anyone goes huffing gas pipes or leaping from the balcony:

By the end of this weekend, more than two million Canadians will have watched the Scotiabank Giller Prize gala. Almost a half million watched it live last night. That's a prize ceremony FOR BOOKS. Not movies, not music. Books. Two million Canadians (almost one in ten, for the record).

Readers are there. Publishers are there. Writers are there.

Are times going to be tough? Yes. But times have been tough before, and will be again. Chains will close. Stores will close. Belts will be tightened. But the readers are there. Publishers are there. Writers are there.

"And for the price of a good meal in this town, you can buy all five of the books on the shortlist."

Sunshine13
11-13-2008, 09:47 AM
I'm asking for and giving new books this holiday season.

Linda Adams
11-13-2008, 03:32 PM
I buy a book almost every time I go into a bookstore. Bought one from Borders yesterday, also routinely buy them from Books on the Square, a fine Providence independent. Amazon I use more for DVDs and used books, via Zon's network of independent bookstores. Got several books from Zon and friends on the way right now!

The Borders I go to is always packed, and there's usually a line at the cash registers. But this is a big college area, with lots of us intellectual elite around. ;)

I went to my Borders this weekend, too. Long lines, parking lot packed. Inside, I discovered they'd been doing some rearranging. They removed the music section and added more books instead.

tehuti88
11-13-2008, 07:44 PM
The pros and cons of buying online are all fine and dandy, but the OP was made, not from the perspective of a reader, but of a writer.

...

So, my question:

Does this daunt you? Cause doubt? Make you want to throw it all up in the air?

Or does it fire you up? Cause you to try harder, be better, seek out that story that people can’t help but be curious about once they hear the first sentence?

Or do you not care? Are you unaffected by any of it? It doesn’t bother you at all or cause you to change anything in the way you approach writing and, I assume, publication?

What are your thoughts as a writer?

Sorry that I went off topic. :( I understood the original post, but was just adding further commentary since the subject of the price of books and how easy they are to obtain came up. (You must admit that how often readers purchase books, and how they purchase them, affects chances of publication. So it wasn't that far off topic.)

As a writer, the news doesn't concern me because

1. I'm not trying to get published and

2. Borders is a bookstore. Even if they go under, there will always be other bookstores to replace them, whether on a street corner or online. It seems like it might make it harder to FIND books and purchase them easily, but will it really make it too much harder to get published? Well, even if it does, there will always be new and other publishers. People still read. Until people stop reading, it won't be the "end of the world" for writers.

So, there might not be a Borders store nearby for somebody to buy your book in. Your book can be carried in another bookstore, or at Amazon, or sold out of the back of your truck. *shrug*

When the big publishers themselves start going out of business, that's another matter entirely.

(Apologies for my ignorance if Borders also publishes books, I thought they were just a store. And even if they do publish, what I already typed still stands.)

Atlantis
11-14-2008, 01:37 AM
I was speaking to someone who works in the publishing industry today and they were telling me that Borders has been in financial trouble for a while, barely fending off bankruptcy, and with the latest economic news of the past few months, it looks like they’ll be going under. Right now they’re seriously cutting back on inventory as well as closing stores, but the prognosis is grim.

So there goes a major market for books.

They also told me that since Black October, publishing houses are laying off people and announcing massive losses and many imprints will be cut back or shut down.

So, if you think things were tough before, as far as getting published goes, you better bring out your “A” game, people.

So, any thoughts on the future of writing, publishing and the economy?

If Borders collaspe its not the end of the world. Instead of books being sold in huge shops they'll be sold in little ones. Then there's the net....

katiemac
11-14-2008, 01:51 AM
If Borders collaspe its not the end of the world. Instead of books being sold in huge shops they'll be sold in little ones. Then there's the net....

Borders going under is a bad sign for the little shops, too. Ever notice how at small book shops, the books usually cost more? It's because they can't afford to discount book prices. They buy smaller amounts of books from publishers and don't get discounts like stores do that buy in bulk. Since they don't get a discount, they have to sell books at sticker price because they can't offer that same discount to shoppers.

If the big shops like Borders and B&N that can afford to slash prices are suffering, then so are the little shops.

BarbaraKE
11-16-2008, 03:29 AM
Books aren't expensive compared to other entertainments. I don't see a reason to panic.

I've heard people say that before but I disagree. At least for hardcover books. I think they're ridiculously expensive.

katiemac
11-16-2008, 06:17 AM
I've heard people say that before but I disagree. At least for hardcover books. I think they're ridiculously expensive.

Trade and some paperbacks are, too. Last paperback I bought was somewhere around $14. I can get a movie ticket for cheaper.

SPMiller
11-16-2008, 06:21 AM
Novels generally provide a much lengthier period of entertainment than any movie. Paperbacks are dirt cheap per unit time invested in the reading experience.

Still, I feel books can and should be even cheaper.

Atlantis
11-16-2008, 07:49 AM
Borders going under is a bad sign for the little shops, too. Ever notice how at small book shops, the books usually cost more? It's because they can't afford to discount book prices. They buy smaller amounts of books from publishers and don't get discounts like stores do that buy in bulk. Since they don't get a discount, they have to sell books at sticker price because they can't offer that same discount to shoppers.

If the big shops like Borders and B&N that can afford to slash prices are suffering, then so are the little shops.

Why worry about something that hasn't happened yet? Borders is only one bookstore chain. If they go out of business another one will rise to take its place.

katiemac
11-16-2008, 10:19 AM
Why worry about something that hasn't happened yet? Borders is only one bookstore chain. If they go out of business another one will rise to take its place.

Not worrying. Just saying that if the big chains like Borders are hurting, they smaller shops are having trouble, too.

Borders has been financially unstable for awhile, if I remember. But the economy is hurting Barnes and Noble too, like it's hurt everything.

inkkognito
11-16-2008, 09:31 PM
I used to be a Borders fan but got converted to Books-A-Million because when we moved to FL the closest Borders and B&N were a long, trafficky drive away. For all I know, BaM is having financial troubles too...if they close, I'm gonna go into serious Giant Magazine Section To Browse Through Withdrawal.

I'm more afraid of the economy's impact on magazines. They're taking longer to pay and laying off personnel right and left. Not good for a freelancer. With books, I think the market will always be there for certain topics but it will get more cut-throat competitive. I want to do self-help books and have had two publishers tell me that right now you have to be a big name, even if you have great material. Hopefully that will easy up when times get better.

katiemac
11-17-2008, 12:00 AM
I'm more afraid of the economy's impact on magazines. They're taking longer to pay and laying off personnel right and left. Not good for a freelancer. With books, I think the market will always be there for certain topics but it will get more cut-throat competitive. I want to do self-help books and have had two publishers tell me that right now you have to be a big name, even if you have great material. Hopefully that will easy up when times get better.

Yeah, magazines are having a lot of trouble. I've been contacting people in the industry for a few months now (not for pitching or anything like that) and they tell me more and more magazines keep going under. And Time Warner just laid off about six percent of their staff across the board. And they have sound, popular and established magazines. It's not looking so good.

RickN
11-17-2008, 07:58 PM
None of it bothers me. Most of the magazines I've read in my lifetime have failed and been replaced by other mags. I bought plenty of books before Borders existed; I'll buy plenty more after they're gone.

As long as there are consumers, there will be a supply of product, i.e. books and mags. The producer-to-consumer method may change, but it won't stop. It never has. If I can still buy these (http://www.horseandponytack.com/buggywhip.html) and these (http://www.wagons-wheels.com) I feel good about being able to get books.

rhymegirl
11-18-2008, 12:50 AM
I was speaking to someone who works in the publishing industry today and they were telling me that Borders has been in financial trouble for a while, barely fending off bankruptcy, and with the latest economic news of the past few months, it looks like they’ll be going under. Right now they’re seriously cutting back on inventory as well as closing stores, but the prognosis is grim.

Well, here's the thing. I just bought my daughter a Borders gift card for Christmas yesterday.

I sure hope they stay in business for at least the next few months.

kristin724
01-01-2009, 08:05 AM
Our local Borders and Barnes and Noble are always packed, unless you go in the last hour before closing. Unfortunately I buy little there, I just lie to sit and browse. Online sources are so much cheaper. Instead of setting up all kinds of fancy kiosks and coffees, why can't the big box stores lower their prices?

The used book places with there fill a bag $5 or ten cents a book are like madhouses every Saturday. If every book wasn't $30, I'd buy out my Borders. I can't afford $15 a piece for every Sharpe book I don't have-I've got 10 more to go. I know its all about the making of the book and who's hands are in the pot percentage for the books to be priced the way they are, but supply and demand people. How many kids can take there allowance and blow it at Borders? That is why they are in trouble.

Such a shame, though.

kristin724
01-01-2009, 08:12 AM
I forgot to say, the bookstore where I used to live in Vineland closed, and I did buy books old and new for Christmas, and I got books as gifts, too!

Didn't Borders take a buyout package to BN that got turned down? There's a great documentary that comes on PBS a lot called Paperback Dreams. It's about the even worse conundrum the independent bookstore is in. Good stuff.

Tigercub
01-01-2009, 02:13 PM
I wish I had the link, but according to agent Nathan Bransford's blog, book sales were UP in 2008.

I probably buy as many books as I ever did--I don't think I can stop--but I buy most of them used anymore. Very environmental in that no more trees are killed, but not so good for the author, who doesn't get paid a royalty on used books. I feel bad about that, and when I can afford it and if it's for a writer I know or am specifically a fan of, then I do try to buy the book new.

I remember specifically buying one of the Harry Potter books at Tattered Cover because I wanted to support local, independent bookstores. It cost over $35, and I nearly fainted dead away. The next HP book I bought at the grocery store for $20, and the final one from Amazon for $17.

I used to work about four blocks from the Tattered Cover, so they got a lot of my business.

BarbaraKE
01-01-2009, 05:25 PM
Novels generally provide a much lengthier period of entertainment than any movie. Paperbacks are dirt cheap per unit time invested in the reading experience.


Not for me. I read the average book in about two hours. (I read really, really fast.)

But what I meant (when I said book are expensive) is that they're expensive relative to what they are.

In other words, I can pick up a (new) DVD of a movie that cost $100 million dollars to make for about the same as a new hardcover book. (If anything, a bit less.)

And that has to do with the medium in which they come (paper book vs. DVD). Books are simply inefficient.

C.J. Rockwell
01-01-2009, 08:51 PM
The intent of the OP was to tell the aspiring writers here that if you thought it was hard to get published before, guess what? It’s about to become even harder.

You’re going to have to really hone your skills and polish your prose and finesse your story. You’re going to have to make your story even more unique and intriguing. You’re going to have to make your writing really stand out and shine. You’re going to have to be even more patient and willing to slog through hours and hours of personal hell with no thought of gain or reward.

In this current climate, which is not conducive to profit for writers or publishers, you cannot rely on your writing eventually becoming a career or money maker (though I know the majority of us here don’t, still we all dream.)

So, my question:

Does this daunt you? Cause doubt? Make you want to throw it all up in the air?

Or does it fire you up? Cause you to try harder, be better, seek out that story that people can’t help but be curious about once they hear the first sentence?

Or do you not care? Are you unaffected by any of it? It doesn’t bother you at all or cause you to change anything in the way you approach writing and, I assume, publication?

What are your thoughts as a writer?


First off, I hear what you're saying, so much so that I'm trembling. Not out of fear, but raw, unadulterated rage!

You ask if this news makes writers angry, want to work harder, or if we don't care at all.

Well, I AM a writer, I AM angry, I DO want to work harder, and I DO care.

Not to sound snobby, because I know the best things in life are worth working for, but frankly things were hard enough. Now this news seems to prove what I always feared might happen since the economy started going loopy, the bar of excellence will be set at a level so high, only the elite of the elite can survive.

Now I'm not against quality control, but there are many writers who don't reach the elite level, but it doesn't mean their stories are worthless. The past has proven that many writers have stories worth reading, whether they win awards or hit the bestseller lists or not.

The problem I have with this news is that publishers will have even more reason to stick to proven names that sell, and be even more reluctant to take on someone new. While I legitimately understand the business of this and all that, those proven names won't be around forever.

I mean, we lost some great writers last year, and while no one can ever take their place, we have to champion new voices, and that means giving new writers a chance to shine.

Sure, I want to be published, I make no secret of that. It doesn't matter to me if I have to work two jobs (writing and X career I haven't figured out yet) for the rest of my life. All I want is share my stories with as many willing readers as possible. I want to be able to make someone laugh, cry, or to simply be happy after reading one of my stories, and if my stories can make just enough money to be taken seriously by a publisher, I'd be satisfied.

I've worked harder at this for the last four years than I have at most things in my life. I've pushed myself to my utmost limits. I've strived to make my sentences shine, my stories interesting and real, and my characters memorable.

This makes me want to work harder, however…

We all can't be geniuses!

Still, I haven't given up. After all the anguish I've been through so far, and there's no way on earth I'm quitting now!

Having said that, I'm not most patient person in the world, nor have I truly achieved the "thick skin" so many writers are flaunting. But I love books and writing too much to throw in the towel. I'm more than willing to persevere through this, and I must say that ever since I joined AW, I'm always reminded that we all are growing together, just at different speeds.

None of the writers I know, myself included, deliberately want to produce trash that isn't worth reading. We're pouring our hearts, souls, blood, sweat and tears into every project we work on.


It's pressure like this that I feel explains, at least in part why writers can get frustrated when further revisions are required of their manuscripts if they finally get an agent/editor. Think of this way, publishers want writers who can produce things on deadline, and done well. With editors overworked in so many areas, they count on agents to filter the gems from the junk.

So in turn, agents accept the projects they feel will sell and are as professional as possible upon receiving them. This is where the frustration comes in.

On the one hand, there's always room for improvement, that's a good thing to know. The problem comes from the fact that as writers, we're constantly pressured by the agents and publishers to achieve "perfection" upon submission or our stories won't even be read.

I find this a serious contradiction. How can our manuscripts be "perfect" and still having room for improvement at the same time?

While there are certainly writers who don't think of being professional and just send any ol' thing with no editing or planning, the serious writers, myself included, know how important making a first impression is.

I'm not saying that we should send in stories filled with errors and typos and expect special treatment, far from it. What I'm saying is that we have to accept that writers (The serious ones who respect the other side of the desk) are giving their all and while we all want to produce a manuscript as error-free as possible, some things aren't always going to be 100%

I've worked on my MG novel for the last four years. I've rewritten it three times, edited to death, making it shine the best I can. I'm the middle of a new rewrite now, and while my first chapter is much better than my first attempt, and it's much more polished, there are still things to edit.

I even had a freelance editor do a sample edit of that first chapter, and it still needed work after that. Where does it end?

So to sum it up, I'm mad about how crazy things are getting, and you can bet your laptop/yellow pad/typewriter that I'm going to work my head off to get better.

Not all aspiring writers are wannabe flakes who don't want to work hard at the craft. I know you weren't implying that, but it's worth saying.

But I hope with all my heart that currently unpublished writers will get the chance to shine and prove their hard work CAN pay off. Myself included.

Elidibus
01-02-2009, 09:34 AM
I don't believe it'll happen. For as long as there's people, there will be a readership.

^^^^
This. 100%

I don't care WHO sells any of my potential books, really. Over on this part of the country, we had a grocery store chain go bankrupt. (Winn-Dixie) and it was part of the top 5 for this area. Did everyone go around saying that it was a bad time to go into the food distribution business? Did General Mills get worried because they couldn't sell Lucky Charms them? No. Because there are other grocery stores. People need food and they'll get it. Just not from a place named Winn Dixie.

The same with books. People need to read. They'll get their fix from some place other than Borders.

I honestly don't understand the "Gloom and doom" some of these threads bring up. I wouldn't give a damn if every single book store in the country went bankrupt. As long as people read, there is a market. And as long as people want to read, I intend to write for them.

If anything, this may be beneficial to us real writers. With so much slush and so little time to read through it, I expect editors to deal with poor writing with even more prejudice than before. Good! That way my story will stand out even more! =)

Peachnuts
01-02-2009, 09:58 PM
I think I've only actually met one woman who feels the same way about books as I do (in person). Simply put I love them, it's the only gift I ever want-- on the top of my list, but rarely get. A special day for me is going to the book store and browsing.

I dream of owning a gothic library one day.

Anyways, I have a point to make, in times of troubles, don't people like to forget it all and go to the movies or read books?

I must admit, about 30% of my books are new, the rest I research and then rent from the library to keep costs down. Now I'm starting to rethink that it would do our profession better justice to buy all the books new.
Anyways, just my 0.02$.

Oh, and Happy New Year everybody.

willietheshakes
01-03-2009, 01:44 AM
I wouldn't give a damn if every single book store in the country went bankrupt. As long as people read, there is a market. And as long as people want to read, I intend to write for them.


Well, I don't want to get banned so early in the year, so I'll bite back my initial, Anglo-Saxon response, and just say "Hey, all of the booksellers wish you a happy new year, too."

Aside from that initial reaction, this paragraph is so wrong-headed, so completely wrong, it's difficult to know where to begin.

brokenfingers
01-12-2009, 11:27 PM
An interesting article/post I found concerning the publishing industry's woes.

I agree with much of it, but the twist at the end is especially telling.

Behind Publishing's Wednesday of the Long Knives (http://www.ereads.com/2008/12/behind-publishings-wednesday-of-long.html)

BarbaraKE
01-13-2009, 01:22 AM
Brokenfingers - thanks for posting that link. Very interesting.

Ken
01-13-2009, 01:30 AM
if the publishing industry falls on hard times that will make getting published extremely difficult, which is fine with me. I love challenges and hurdles, which require one to work that much harder to succeed. // So thanks for the great news :-)

Diamond Lil
01-13-2009, 02:36 AM
There's a shift going on for sure but something new will take its place. Times like these are made for entrepreneurs (and persistent writers:)) and it takes a while.

I love bookstores and I think they'll always be around in one form or another because people are social beings. But publishing needs to come into the digital age and update its distribution methods: e-pubbing, POD, downloads. It would help if Kindle and Kindle-like devices would be more affordable.

And some cool options you could have with POD? Choose your own cover from different options. Make your own short fiction, poetry, or essay anthology. Apple understood that people like to make their own music mixes, so why not with books?

kristin724
01-13-2009, 04:27 AM
Great article. I was thinking of this the other day. I never seen anyone at the grocery store with reusable bags, and I was thinking that when I worked briefly at Borders, the amount of paper lost was staggering. Every day dozens of boxes of stripped books and magazines being thrown away. Geez. Why can't the big box stores create their own chains of second hand stores where dated and discounted material are sold, still giving authors royalties and eliminating waste and returns? Pity.

rxvenomqueen
01-13-2009, 07:31 AM
While the economy's downward spiral might be playing a part in Border's financial woes, I think another factor could be that a lot of readers are turning to ebooks. Even if the States were in good financial shape, I'm sure it'd be just a matter of time before Border's accountants noticed a decrease in book sales. As long as I have B&N, I'm happy. :)

Serious Desi
01-15-2009, 07:48 PM
What abour Barnes and Nobles...that's the only book store within walkind distance for me and it seems fine....it's staff is growing so they don't seem to be cutting back.

brokenfingers
04-26-2009, 04:35 AM
I dug this thread up instead of starting a new one, but I wanted to relate some things I've observed in my area recently.

I was shocked to discover the other day that a large Borders book store by a very busy mall near me had closed. Every time I went in there it was busy.

I went into another one at another mall (both were independent megastores outside the mall, not mall stores) and it was DEAD. Hardly anybody in there.

I hope you guys like Amazon.

MaryMumsy
04-26-2009, 06:12 AM
My husband was in the Borders one mile from us two days ago. He said there was hardly anyone there. And they are closing down their music area except for new releases. This is a free-standing store. Of course, the mall across the street from them isn't doing too well either. At least I know where there are three BNs reasonably close.

MM

CheshireCat
04-27-2009, 01:26 AM
I live so far in the boonies we have Walmart and one small indie bookstore.

Needless to say, I support the indie.

I do, however, buy DVDs online from B&N.

bettielee
04-27-2009, 02:22 AM
Man. I hate to think of life without Borders. I mean, it was a bookstore NOT in a mall! Its eminent demise saddens me... though I rarely bought anything there unless I had a gift card! And it carried Victorian Homes Magazine. It just bums me out! To the point that I fall back on the ol' "It bums me out!"

Wayne K
04-27-2009, 02:46 AM
My husband was in the Borders one mile from us two days ago. He said there was hardly anyone there. And they are closing down their music area except for new releases. This is a free-standing store. Of course, the mall across the street from them isn't doing too well either. At least I know where there are three BNs reasonably close.

MM
There's the problem, everyone wants to be Starbucks. They opened too many stores and lost them all.

bettielee
04-27-2009, 02:58 AM
Lost them all? I got four within walking distance. Seriously!

som1luvsmi
04-27-2009, 03:07 AM
Apparently all the business for Borders is in California. Every time my family and I go, there's tons of people. Not to mention that since last August, I'm pretty sure we've been an integral part in keeping Borders alive. We've bought at least 150 books in the past 8 months, thanks to my husband's rewards card from his work.

Wayne K
04-27-2009, 04:11 AM
Lost them all? I got four within walking distance. Seriously!
Okay, losing them all. According to Wall St.

kristin724
04-27-2009, 05:00 AM
I'm sort of glad to see the reduction of the music and movies sections. They were put in in hopes to lure folks with multiple buys but the big wigs fail to release that we really want more books and books space and book atmosphere beyond coffee. I don't like coffee and I don't understand how the two became permanently stuck together.