Are Publishers, Not Technology, To Blame For The Decline Of Books?

Ah, books, those paper-paged dinosaurs! Lovers of the non-electronic form of literature are already bemoaning the end of an era, as Kindles and other e-readers seem poised to replace physical books forever. But should we be blaming technology or publishers for the possibly imminent extinction of books?

Pointing fingers is always fun, and since the rise of devices that allow users to read entire tomes without ever turning a physical page, those who cherish books have placed blame on Amazon and other manufacturers. But Forbes says perhaps it’s the publishers who have done the most damage.

The practice of New York publishers to publish a huge amount of books, not market them and then just pray someone wants to buy them used to work when there was no competition. But now anyone can use online publishers like Lulu or Smashwords, says Forbes, and publish themselves.

The big problem is book publishers’ business models: Waiting around to see what is suggested to them instead of proactively researching the market and providing a product consumers want doesn’t seem like a good idea, and yet that is how publishers conduct business with literary agents.

The books they do end up going with many times are books no one really wants to buy: Books on 9/11, the Iraq War, Obama’s rise to success, economic meltdown, the BP oil spill, etc. All very important and interesting topics, but not something you want to buy a book about when there is enough information online to satiate your interest.

Are Books An Endangered Species? [Forbes]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.