Thursday, September 01, 2011

The death of books has been greatly exaggerated

Radical change is certainly producing some alarming symptoms – but much of the doomsayers' evidence is anecdotal, and it's possible to read a much happier story

London book fair
Not dead yet ... the London book fair. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images

This time last year, I was metaphorically invited to the only party I've ever wanted to be seen at. My first novel, The English Monster, was picked up by an agent, and then by a publisher, Simon and Schuster. It hits the streets in March 2012.

I've made it, I thought to myself as I clutched my invite to the most exclusive set of all. I'm going to be a published author.

So imagine my surprise - nay, dismay - to discover that publishing's streets were not paved with gold, but stalked by the anxious, the gloomy, the suicidal. "Publishing's dead!" shouted men in sackcloth on Bloomsbury street corners. I had arrived at the party, but the coats were being handed out, the drink had dried up and the hostess had collapsed.

So I asked myself (somewhat desperately, positively naively): are things really that bad? What is the actual state of book publishing in Britain? Can writers really only look forward to a life of penury? Or should I stick my head in the sand, if only to deaden the sound of commissioning editors weeping into their lattes?
For the full piece go to The Guardian.

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