Book Chains Will Go The Way Of Circuit City

Illustration for article titled Book Chains Will Go The Way Of Circuit City

Nobody is sure where the publishing industry is headed, but former Soft Skull Press publisher Richard Nash has some dark (yet strangely hopeful) ideas. He sees a future where bookstores die, publishers go Hollywood, and book-writing explodes.

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Nash spent almost a decade running indie Soft Skull Press, which published some of the smartest, angriest, and weirdest novels around - including work by Nick Mamatas, Dennis Cooper, Lydia Millet, io9's own Charlie Jane Anders, and a lot of mind-blowing science fiction. Now Nash is working on publishing projects that he believes will survive into 2020.

Writes Nash, over at GalleyCat:

Most predictions for 2020 based on models derived from controlling the supply side, that is, from the monopoly on the means of producing and distributing books, will be wrong. By which I mean, the supply chain book publishing and retail model is ending. The book retail chains will disappear, just like Circuit City, Sharper Image, Tower Records disappeared. And the corporate publishers will likely all but disappear just as Atari, Digital, Wang disappeared though the backlists will be spun off to private equity companies looking for semi-predictable IP-based cash flow, and a couple of front list publishing enterprises will likely be operating trying to emulate the Hollywood blockbuster model with just about enough success to be able to stay in business.

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But Nash remains hopeful about writing, and especially novel writing. He thinks "long-form text-only narrative will continue to thrive as it has since cavemen gathered around the fire," and that "in 2020 the disaffected twentysomethings of the burgeoning middle classes of India, China, Brazil, Indonesia will be producing novels faster than any of us can possibly imagine."

via Galleycat

Image via Deadmalls.com.

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DISCUSSION

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Book retail chains were doomed the moment they stopped selling books.

The Twihards and Oprah book club crowd will keep them afloat for a while, but unless you're looking for the latest New York Times best-seller, there's absolutely no reason to drive all the way out to a retail store that is practically guaranteed NOT to have the book you're looking for.

Sure, they can usually order it for you, but what's the point?

There are only two advantages to shopping in a real bookstore— You can skim a potentially interesting looking novel to see if it sucks before you buy it, and you can purchase it now. Neither of these benefits work if they don't stock the friggin' books!

Sadly, the sci-fi sections of Borders and Barnes & Nobles seem to be the worst hit. I visited both this past weekend in an attempt to spend a few holiday gift cards, and was incredibly frustrated to see that they usually only stock one or two items from each author, if that.