March 2009
by Florrie Binford Kichler

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by Florrie Binford Kichler

Publishing’s Future: A Fuller Picture and a Not-So-Modest Proposal

In a letter published in Shelf Awareness, David Didriksen, owner of Willow Books and Café, an independent bookstore in Acton, MA, postulated that publishers need to return to their roots to survive the current economic downturn. The industry’s historic missions of developing backlist and authors have been ignored in recent years, Didriksen suggested, by an “overreliance on bestsellers,” and the mass distribution of mediocre product. Publishers might just discover that the path back to profitability lies in working together with bookstores to help mine the backlist gold and develop new authors, he said.

I felt compelled to respond and sent a short paragraph to Shelf Awareness. Following is the expanded version:

What David Didriksen Didn’t See

Out of challenges arise opportunities, and while corporate publishers are busy downsizing and cutting lists, independent publishers are continuing to do what they do best—creating the backlist gold mine Mr. Didricksen spoke of in his article, “Time for Publishers and Booksellers to Get Back to Basics.”

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