Several months ago Borders closed out several stores in the Bay area. Every time I saw a 75% off or 90% off sign, I couldn’t resist but see what I could find. Several times I would just go in and peruse the store, curious to see what remained. Current best sellers were long gone, and the leftovers in large part, no one wanted.
And I couldn’t blame them.
I scanned the shelves appalled at some of the book titles and couldn’t help but think, “There’s an audience out there for that?!”. Or when I would see a business book with the title “Quickbooks 2009”, I thought about its usefulness for the future.
I did find it amusing that you could hardly give away Sarah Palin’s book, Going Rogue. (I snatched it up for $4, but I’m sure they lowered it even more.) I’m sure that had to do more with the Bay area interest in Sarah Palin, than the book itself, but I’ve yet to read it.
The world of publishing is a strange industry. You have to predict what people want and risk thousands of dollars on an idea only for that idea to be null and void a few years later. And with the million or so manuscripts and proposals sitting on agents’ desks, it’s no wonder it feels like a volatile industry for an unknown, unpublished writer.
I cannot imagine the job of an agent or an acquisitions editor, the “gatekeepers” for publishing, but I find their job fascinating. I feel like I’ve barely skimmed the surface into learning about them, but the deeper I go, the more I admire their job and the industry as a whole.
Just a few thoughts on the publishing industry today.