RARA-AVIS: The State of Publishing

From: Allan Guthrie (allan@allanguthrie.co.uk)
Date: 01 Jul 2009

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    Came across a newspaper article today, entitled TOO MANY BOOKS, that ties in with some of the topics we've been discussing here recently. I'll quote from it:

    "Many English publishers and booksellers take the view that the constantly increasing production of books will bring about a crisis in the trade, which will result in the bankrupcy of a number of firms, and a reduction of output on the part of those publishing firms which survive the crisis."

    The article then goes on to say:

    "The English [UK] edition of a bestseller may reach a sale of 100,000 copies. Such a total is rare, though it is often exceeded in the United States, where the reading public and the population are much larger than in Great Britain, but sales of 50,000 are by no means uncommon in Great Britain, and even sales of 10,000 will return the publisher and author very satisfactory profits. Most books, and novels in particular, do not reach a sale of 2,000, and many of them are below 1,000."

    There's a quote from Faber and Faber that reads thus:

    "Publishers survive by their education and specialised books, by their possession of valuable backlists built up in healthier times, or by reprints of established classics, or by the sale of cheap reprinted fiction to holiday makers. Without the best-seller, it is safe to say that the publisher in these days cannot possibly survive, if the main part of his business is the supply of new general literature."

    The full article is scanned here. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=HDkTAAAAIBAJ&sjid=K5cDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6588,1695497&dq=publishing+best-seller

    Oh, yeah, it's from The Age, an Australian national, from January 1938.


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