Book Trends: Hello, World!

Today, Publetariat introduces a new, recurring feature: Bob Spear’s Book Trends, which originated on his Book Trends blog.

Why a blog on book industry trends? Who cares? If you are a writer, a reader, a publisher, or a book seller, you better care.

The technology, marketing, and public taste changes are having an enormous impact on what we read and publish, and how we do so. I have been a part of this industry as a bookseller (1979), writer (1974), self publisher (1989), reviewer (2002), and book packager (2002). Along the way I have watched the changes and considered their impact. As a retired professional military intelligence analyst (25 years) and futurist, I have decided to apply the analytical experiences to what I know and how I know it.

I am very open to questions and comments. It is my hope this blog can serve as a forum for book industry discussions. I receive a number of daily email newsletters from the industry. We are seeing customer activities and tastes change in the Book Barn, an independent bookstore [I run] where we sell both new and used books. I will pull all these trend sources together as a basis for not only what is happening but what it means for the future. You readers will certainly have your own observations to contribute and the nature of your questions will also provide meaningful data from which we all can benefit. I look forward to your participation.

In the near future, I intend to address and explain a number of topical themes. Some of them are topics du jour and some are important in the scheme of things but hover below the horizon. My purpose in addressing these is to benefit readers, writers, indie booksellers (non-chain stores instead of Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Amazon), and indie publishers (small to medium presses which are not owned and operated by huge conglomerates) to include self-publishers. The book playing field is certainly not level, but it helps to know where the pot holes are and what they mean. Some of my blogs will delve into history because mankind tends to repeat mistakes without learning what has gone on before. Here is a partial list of proposed themes. I welcome others of interest to you:

  • Death of the mid list and what resulted, good and bad
  • How agents came to be an overarching force
  • Self-publishing vs. vanity publishing vs. traditional publishing
  • Readership trends (this actually encompasses many sub topics)
  • The ever expanding technology
  • 275,000+ books published last year. How do you get noticed among all those?
  • Using the web
  • Author PR and marketing
  • Why booksellers must become destination marketing oriented
  • The dumbing down of America (and maybe the rest of the world?)
  • The censorship argument (grist for Scopes Trials?)
  • And whatever else you suggest

I look forward to lively discussions and learning experiences for all of us.