A Publishing Nightmare

February 2005
by Curt Matthews

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I woke up a few mornings ago with an appalling thought running through my mind. The thought was this: Books will almost certainly soon be filled with advertisements, just like magazines, network TV, and the Internet. Is there any reason to take such a thought seriously? There are a number of reasons.

Trade book sales have been flat in terms of unit volume for a decade, even while retail sales in general have grown. Cheaper (some would say better, but that is a different issue) sources of information or entertainment are widely available. It may be that books are simply too expensive to compete. The inclusion of advertising would certainly lower the price.

And if advertising is acceptable in magazines and on TV and the Internet, why should books be different? It is perfectly clear that consumers will put up with almost any amount of it, no matter how shrill, in exchange for a lower price. The Internet is a special case in point. Apparently almost no one is willing to pay much of anything for content on the Web, and we now all understand that the Web is the future.

The top management at Barnes & Noble certainly thinks books are too expensive (not that B&N is in any way advocating ads in books at this point). For the last year or so they have simply declined to stock titles they believe do not offer good value.

Chicago Review Press recently published a title called Cuba and Its Music (clothbound, 600 pages, $36) to rave reviews in TheIBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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