Many are calling December 3, 2008 the Black Wednesday of Publishing. The term Black Wednesday comes from September 16, 1992, when the British government was forced to withdraw the pound from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism when they were unable to keep Sterling above its agreed lower limit and investors lost billions of pounds.
On December 3, a number of large general publishing houses announced layoffs and restructuring, and one announced a moratorium on purchasing new books. In Christian publishing the scenario was similar. Some of the large publishing houses also announced layoffs for December and one filed for bankruptcy protection.
Of course, all these changes and downsizing lead to numerous speculations about the future of the publishing industry. Some are saying that fewer books will be published while others are saying that this is the jumping off point for the brilliant future of ebooks. While it is evident that publishers have less money to throw after books right now and consumers have less money to spend on books, how this all plays out is still left to be seen.
Maybe these changes bring a great opportunity for small presses to step in and fill the gap. I believe that people will continue to publish books and that books will continue to be read. Book sales are a $23 billion dollar industry. Such a large industry will not fall into oblivion overnight. Well-written books that address needs, that resonate with and speak to readers will always be in demand.
While we are in the midst of uncertain economic times, anxiety and fear should not rule us. I think all publishers can all benefit from a little scriptural advice.
James 4:13-17 says Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins (niv).
I am going to let “If it is the Lord’s will” rule my life this year and I encourage you to also.
If it is the Lord’s will, I will complete and publish an updated and expanded version of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace this year. If it is the Lord’s will, Christian Small Publishers Association will host its second annual Publishers Institute to train and encourage small and new publishers at ICRS this summer. And if it is the Lord’s will, I will get fully onboard with social networking using social media on the web and help other publishers and authors do this too.
How about you?