I always find it encouraging when long-time publishing pros express confidence about the future of books in all forms, especially print. That’s why I found some of the comments by Michael Pietsch, CEO of Hachette, in a recent story in the Wall Street Journal very heartening and wanted to share them with you:
“I’ve been hearing about the demise of book publishing since the first day I stepped through the doors of a publisher back in 1978. But here we are still, publishers like Little, Brown, with histories going back 100 and 200 years. What other American industry has companies still in existence after two centuries, evolving and modernizing but still doing much the same work?”
“Print books have proved durable because, as a format, they’re simply hard to improve on. Music, movies and TV were all fundamentally altered because digitization allowed readers to experience those entertainments anywhere. Books were portable the day they were invented. Other forms have only just caught up.”
“Young readers now entering their adult years had a richer diet of superb books published for them than any before. Raised on Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and The Fault in Our Stars, they’ve had books as a huge part of their lives, and have watched those books become excellent movies, expanding their imaginative hold. Having grown up online, they are all of necessity writers and readers. As this generation comes to the market over the next decades, their demand for great and exciting books will fuel a huge growth in writing and reading.”
“Publishers’ essential work will remain the same—identifying, investing in, nurturing, and marketing great writers. The abundance of titles readers have come to expect will continue to gush forth. Pictorial storytelling will increase in popularity, and comic versions of novels and nonfiction will become commonplace. More titles will be published for children and young-adult readers, including books blended and layered with games. Beloved best-selling writers, living and dead, will publish books more frequently, often with help from co-writers. (Especially the dead ones.) Self-publishing will continue to grow,….”
“Ever-larger retailers and wholesalers bring significant margin pressure, which will lead to continued conglomeration. Social media will continue to expand the writer’s ability to connect with readers; publishers will deepen their relationships with writers, but they’ll also create content of their own. As runaway books sell ever-larger numbers, publishers will earn more on their biggest sellers—which will keep driving up the advances they pay for potential hits. At the same time, publishers will need to innovate and challenge assumptions about every aspect of the business.”
It’s great to hear a publishing veteran predicting that there’s a whole new generation of readers coming up who will value wonderful stories and the authors who create them. Good news for us all as we write on.