If the book business is dying, how come everyone seems to have written or is writing one?
John Irving lamented the state of the book business during an appearance on MPR’s Midmorning with Kerri Miller today.
A few days ago he put it in more stark terms. “If I were 27 and trying to publish my first novel today, I might be tempted to shoot myself,” he said.
Jean-Louis Gassée and Frederic Filloux write today about the downward spiral of the media, and how it should pull itself out by stop giving their products away with — in the case of the book industry — price wars.
The book industry’s health and vigor seem quite related to the degree of regulation. In Germany, where discounts are verboten, there are 2.25 times more bookstores and 31% more new titles per 1,000 inhabitants than in the U.S. Comparing the revenue generated by each new title in each country, we find that the German book market brings slightly more money (+12%) in absolute terms, but four times more when you factor in respective population sizes.
But maybe — as I learned in the post-Midmorning conversation near my cubicle today, people just don’t read books anymore.
You couldn’t tell that by the stack of books from authors waiting to be interviewed in the cubicle of one unnamed MPR colleague:
Thus, the domino effect of the issue. If the book industry dies, radio talk shows will soon follow.
How often do you read a book?