My current penchant for making blog entries, often several a day, leads me to question, “Does this web-based activity cut down on my overall production of essays, poems and stories?” I suppose it does. I continue to produce literary work, hoping against odds for professional representation. Yet, this new essay from Columbia Journalism Review, on the process of publishing a book today, paints a bleak picture of the traditional book publishing business, making one question the value of traditional book authorship. Here are some of the none-too-flattering details from Gail Beckerman’s interesting piece on the selling and production of Stacy Sullivan’s book:
~ Nearly 175,000 books were published in 2003, a 19 percent increase from the previous year, and a mountainous climb from the 45,000 published in 1991.
~ At last count, the Publishers Marketing Association tallied 86,641 legitimate publishers with at least ten books in print. Of those, 1,804 had two hundred or more books to their name.
~ In the 1940s, an average issue of The New York Times Book Review was sixty-four pages long, more than twice todayâ€™s length.
~ In the Los Angeles Times only 1,500 books a year are reviewed or mentioned out of the more than 100,000 published.
What conclusion may an aspiring author/prolific blogger draw from such findings? In the crowded marketplace of ideas one might get a chance to be heard, and the opportunity may even take the shape of a book, but it would be foolish to expect a consistent stream of income to be generated by this process. For that, the author/blogger needs a job. The book can play a huge role, however, in determining which job the writer eventually finds himself with.