Sunday, May 31, 2009

BEA 2009

We've had a good BEA - maybe that first-time honeymoon experience. But the mood has been glum. Attendances down. Sales in bookshops shrinking. Fear of that "iTunes moment" devastating the printed book industry. Newspapers and magazines - the other print media - closing down.  I can see the "Streamline Moderne" magnificence of  McGraw Hill building as I walk to and from the fair. A testament to the past?

McGraw Hill now makes the bulk of its profits from the rating agency Standard & Poor. Maybe book publishing is about to become a rust belt industry. But I think reports of its death are overstated. Everybody enjoys a moment of mourning (NY Times yesterday article: "Declining sales cast gloom at an expo") but e-books are still a tiny percentage of book sales - $100 million out $25 billion. 

The e-books side of things is exciting and seductive, but I'm thinking it will happen more slowly than the fears of the last few days.