Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The sky might be falling

For those of you who don't read agents' and editors' blogs, I thought I'd go ahead and post a link to this article in Publisher's Weekly, which has everyone kind of freaked out. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a BIG publisher, has temporarily halted book acquisitions. As in, it has directed its editors not to buy any more books (from agents and authors) for now. Book sales are down and the bad economy has been especially rough on publishers. Apparently the editors and agents who have been around a while have never heard of anything like this happening.

While I know this is BAD news, I'm trying not to freak about it. I'm not an industry expert, so I'll let the people who are explain this better than I can (plus the comment trails on some of these posts are enlightening):

Agent Kristin over at Pub Rants blogged about it here.

Agent Tracy Marchini talks about it here.

Editorial Anonymous posted an excerpt from the PW here.

Agent Jenny Rappaport at Lit Soup does a little bit of freaking out here.

The Writers' Group discusses it here.

I'll update with more links as I see them.
UPDATE: A reaction article from Galley Cat that sheds more light and includes a few quotes from agent Janet Reid, who also runs a great blog.
MORE UPDATE: Cool-headed lit agent Colleen Lindsay at The Swivet explains why there's no need to panic here.


Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

I think this is a slide that is more than just the down economy. The whole concept of printing books on paper is starting to come apart. More and more people are reading things electronically (this blog for instance) and the younger generation is very comfortable with it. That, coupled with a push for a more 'green' world is going to make the concept of printed books, magazines and newspapers obsolete in the not-to-distant future. The good news for writers is that you can still write stories and sell them... you are just going to have to do it in a different way. As for the book publishing business, one way or another technology is going to put them in the same place as the buggy whip manufacturers. It's just the way that it is. Almost nobody goes to a music store to buy music anymore, but the musicians are still making music. The same will hold true for writers. It might actually be better for the publishing industry to no longer have a strangle hold on what is 'worthy' and what isn't.

But with it, the days of the multi-million dollar advance for a writer are long gone.

AC said...

I honestly don't think the big publishers are going away. All of them have e-book divisions and many are purchasing e-book rights from authors along with regular printing rights.

The funny thing is that anyone could publish an e-book and put it out there--but I still rely on traditional publishers to wade through the crap and publish stuff that's worth it--in print or online. They've still got cache and I think will continue to have it.

Casey said...

Thanks for the books you gave me for my birthday. I finished Watermelon last week. Stayed up after midnight three nights to finish it. That's why I'm not allowed to read books anymore. I don't know when to put them down.