Books as a business

Fascinating article in New York Magazine, as a reader, as an editor, and as a new owner of a kindle: Have We Reached the End of Book Publishing As We Know It?

Debbie Stier, Miller’s No. 2 at HarperStudio as this little imprint is called, has been collecting videos for their blog. “You want to see what happens to books after they go to book heaven?” she asks. On the screen of her MacBook, a giant steel shredder disgorges a ragged mess of paper and cardboard onto a conveyor belt. This is the fate of up to 25 percent of the product churned out by New York’s publishing machine.

Everyone’s eyes widen, as though watching some viral YouTube gross-out. “It’s like Wall-E,” says marketing director Sarah Burningham. “It’s depressing,” Miller adds. They had sent in a Flip camera with a warehouse worker. “You can see our books go through there,” says Stier. “The Crichton, the Ann Patchett.”

2 Replies to “Books as a business”

  1. I read the first few pages with interest but couldn’t shake the feeling of nostalgia. April marked thirteen years since the series of heart-breakingly tough meetings where we decided to close down New Society Publisher’s main Philadelphia office. Hundreds of independent publishers, bookstores and small distributors went under or had to drastically re-invent themselves in the mid-1990s. Have the Big Boys and Girls at Random House just been running full steam ahead with million dollar advances all this time? Hard to feel too sympathetic.

    If you’re too depressed after that article, just go for a refresher view of Wesch’s The Machine is Us/ing Us. I can barely watch it without tearing up.

    Hope you’re liking the Kindle. A fellow commuter had one and let me play around with it for a few minutes last month. It looked pretty neat indeed.

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