The Endginning of an Era

20 05 2007

By Derek Beres

“If Barnes & Noble took out full-page ads every week, there would be more book review sections,” said David Cole, publisher of News Inc., a weekly newsletter tracking the industry.

With an opening like that, things can’t be good. While the music industry is garnering constant media attention, the focus has been much less so on artistic mediums like writing, and its benefactor, the publishing industry. The LA Times announced tentative advances toward merging their stand-along Sunday review section with the Opinions section, cutting four pages from the section.

I personally have mixed feelings about this. It’s always sad when one of the few widespread voices for literature dissolves, yet effigies are meant to be burned. The paper is trying to make a stronger presence online, which could open new and greater opportunities for them. Yet that sword is double-edged: freelancer rates would most definitely dwindle, and it does not ensure they will recoup what has driven them to downsize in the first place – advertising, or better put, lack of.

The leveling of industry to self-media outlets has always affected everyone differently. Individuals and collectives with the ability to spread their messages virally have flourished, while some indies are lost in the shuffle, and most corporates are trying to muscle their way into your mind. I don’t feel the industry will move to a completely online edition – books, like clothing, like to be held, touched, caressed. The remix continues, and writers continue to stretch and contemplate to decipher future secrets of trade.

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