The recent "Black Wednesday" bloodpath at the big publishing houses has prompted yet another "OMG publishing is dying!!!!" story, this one at Salon.com. As with all the other articles we've been seeing for the last decade or so, it hits the usual list of suspects:
- Big corporations strangled publishing into a bean-counting coma.
- Amazon.com did it with the lead pipe in the Web-based library.
- Barnes & Noble did it with the gun at the head of the buying public who are too stupid to figure out what books to buy without someone telling them.
- E-books did it with their cloak of invisibility--oh, wait, it's the other way around. Big publishing refuses to understand e-book technology, e-book consumers, and the reading public in general. See #1.
There's nothing new here, except for briefly touching on how smaller, more flexible publishers may be able to weather the storm through more creative deals, but that's really just the converse of #1, isn't it? It doesn't even mention the fact that genre imprints and genre houses came through it relatively unscathed. Let's face it, large corporate media companies have never embraced change easily. The television and film industries only embraced the Internet after beating themselves bloody trying to fight it. The music industry is just now starting to figure out that chewing off its own head is not the best way to slip out of the digital noose. Now big publishing, the most evolution-blind and inflexible of all the media industries, has hit the wall--again--promising to give us many more years of articles virtually indentical to the one at Salon.