BCLA 2014: For the love of paper: the book industry today

Panel of 6 on the book publishing industry.

Hal Wake

There will always be a place for slow food and fine dining, similarly, the printed book will always have a place.

Wattpad allows writers to post writing. One writer might break $100k. The medium allows people who are interested in genre to find you, sample your work, and become a fan. This has to do with speed and mobility.

Still trying to figure out how to deal with that at the writer’s festival.

Trena White

Part of independent publishing. Uncertainty is dominant in the industry. The sky has always been falling, but people keep doing what they do. It’s the passion for stories that keeps it going and keeps it going.

Large retailers has really pushed and influenced what happens with publishers. The current retail environment favours fast front list. The one industry is mid-level publishers, especially independent book publishers that do not have guaranteed sellers.

The distinction now is not print/electronic, but it’s the difference depending on the quality of publishing.

Christopher Brayshaw

Actually really busy, and just signed 15 year lease one of the locations.

How long are you going to be here? Indefinitely.

Many see it as dead or dying industry, but may be ‘contrarian’ by birth. Self-employment was the best option. A really good way possibly to run a business is to keep asking ‘why’.

You have to have an idea of what you want to do. Level of knowledge and breath of selection. Employees have a very specialized knowledge who will share at no cost. That was the vision to bring to Vancouver.

Plan to build something that Vancouver can be proud of that came about during one of the worst economic downturns.

Sally Harding

The digital revolution is only 30 years in, when the first one lasted 70 years.

Why feeling optimistic? Publishers are still standing and have a better idea of what they’re doing.

What does a publisher do? Provide editors, marketing, distribution. The reputation, prestige, and they put up the risk capital that makes them different from self-publishing.

It’s harder for author to get published, harder to make a living doing so, and harder to stay published. From best seller novel to bust for life (article in guardian).

Consolidation and territoriality. Went from 6 big imprints and 5 good size independent, to 3 big and 1 good size independents.

Annabel Lyon

Things are changing so quickly that having last published 1 1/2 years ago, seems like don’t know anything about the publishing industry today.

Optimistic about the state of story.

First published in 1996, and published 7 books, before that many literary journals.

What’s changed? We have to talk about the short story and where’s that going.

We are coming to the end of publishing collections of short stories. Will now mostly be published through magazines and apps, but that’s not dying. However, short story collections is dying.

Ebook and digital publishing didn’t used to exist. Increasingly a forest. More of a forest in North America than in other countries.

The book is the container, but it’s the thing that’s inside that we respond to and regardless of the packaging, we will continue to want it.

Jane Watkins

It’s not about the format, but it’s something we get attached to.

Browsing for the book is important.

Bought a Kindle, was sure to hate it. Read at least 2 hours every day, can read anywhere, anytime. Favourite is still with a paper book.

Not an either/or kind of person. The format depends on what best fits the activity.

We (libraries) have lost our market share in the ebook world. Lost our relationship with books and the industry.

Need to find new ways to connect.

Bookstores in libraries is a great idea. Let’s promise to get together again.

Q&A

Publishers do look at self-published authors and books.

Having libraries nearby is the best thing for the independent retailers because will pick it up if library doesn’t have it or high on hold list. Library and book seller are complementary to each other.

Discount new sellers is just providing one more reason to support the independent book seller instead of Amazon.

Full colour (art, children’s) books is one major strategy to keep going to produce high quality, collector’s edition, and mass market. It’s about knowing what people want.

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