Readersforum's Blog

August 17, 2011

Am I Still Digging Publishing?

By Stacey Barney

If you want to know the truth, how I feel about publishing depends upon the season, the day, maybe even the hour that you ask. Probably like just about every industry these days, publishing is a business of peaks and valleys. It’s a business where ideals meet commerce, and one often walks away bloodied and disillusioned. Frankly, some days my ideals and I feel just plain weary. But mostly, there are the days when books come into the office literally hot off the presses, or days when one of my authors gets a starred review, or days when I find a submission that really gets me going, and miracles of miracles, I land it for my house. Those are the days that keep me happy and excited about the business I’ve dedicated my professional life to.

But the days when I do find myself in the valley of publishing — maybe a book isn’t selling quite the way I’d hoped, or a reviewer kicked around one of my authors, or my editorial team didn’t see what I saw in a submission that I’d give my left kidney to have on my list and I must let go, or, you know, those days Borders turns to a pile of rubbish right before my very eyes — those days, I’m still buoyed by the prospect of something I was told I would never have to worry about by a prominent sales director when I first entered the business 10 years ago: e-books. But it seems these days that all anyone in publishing is worried about is the advent of the e-book and what that means for our industry going forward.

For my part, thanks to e-books, I’m privileged to be working in publishing at a time that’s really akin to the wild, wild West, and it’s thrilling. Publishing is finding new ways to do its thang, to reach readers by any means necessary, especially electronically.

Now my enthusiasm might sound strange to those who know me best, to those who know that my e-reader sits on a shelf in my office abandoned, collecting dust, to my authors who valiantly struggle through my bad handwriting in the margins of their manuscripts. No, I am not electronically inclined. But readers are, more and more. And publishers are paying attention. The future of our business depends on publishers paying vital attention to what is happening with e-books at this very moment.

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