Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

The End of Publishing… Again.

Early this week I had the pleasure of interviewing veteran literary agent and children’s book expert George Nicholson for the Children’s Book Hub.  George reminisced about the time when it was thought that paperbacks would ruin the publishing industry, by bringing about the demise of hardcover trade and library books.  This sentiment was so widespread that people who were in paperback publishing were treated as pariahs within industry and literary circles.

Of course, we know what happened… paperbacks only served to strengthen the industry, by providing more revenue opportunities for both authors and publishers, and by making books available to a wider audience by virtue of a more accessible price point.

The same level of panic occurred when television was invented – it was to be the end of the film industry. But now, actors, writers, directors, producers, designers and technicians have exponentially more opportunities… and all the more so since the advent of video, then DVDs, and now webcasting.

Why does this all matter? Because in George’s view, all this anxiety about e-publishing signaling the end of books is just more of the same.   George is an esteemed elder in the publishing industry, with decades of experience and perspective.  And he’s excited about the impact of new media and technology on publishing. He views it as yet another huge opportunity for his clients, and for everyone in the industry.  And he’s looking forward to being involved. Me, too.

How about you?


5 Responses to “The End of Publishing… Again.”
  1. Beth says:

    I so appreciated Mr. Nicholson’s optimistic view of the e-book issue. He actually seemed excited to see where this would take us, and it was so refreshing after all the doom and gloom that is constantly around us when people talk about “the death of the book as we know it.” It was good to have someone take the long perspective and say, “Hold on, we’ve been through times like this before, and it has ultimately been good for everyone, so everybody just calm down.”

    It will, indeed, be interesting to see where the next years take us in the book world. It’s good to be reminded to choose to be optimistic about the possibilities rather than fearful.

  2. Diane says:

    Interesting thoughts, thanks Emma. While I have yet to listen to George’s Interview with you (yes, I’m a bit behind), surely it would serve as another medium with which to get our book into the hands of our readers. What I am wondering is, when presenting your Manuscript to a publisher, do you mention that you would like that opportunity also, or do they (the publisher) make that decision regarding how best to publish your story, either e-book or hardcopy or both?

  3. Suzie says:

    Nice blog, Emma. I am glad you made the connection with the film industry and the advent of television. My great-uncle was a movie theater owner and when television started to become more popular he was quoted as saying, “People have kitchens, but they still go out to eat.” I am reminded of that quote as I listen to Mr. Nicholson’s oral history of his formative years in the New York publishing world. I admit that I am a bit intimidated by the whole e-book phenomenon but that’s more because I don’t have the technology to access it right now than an aversion to it. I believe that it can only be a good thing if it is leading people to read more! 🙂

  4. Kendra says:

    Mrs. Emma Hamilton,

    I appreciated Nicholson’s insight to the publishing industry! I’m a freshman at college, aspiring to be an editor.

    I wasn’t sure where to post these questions:
    As an editor, what set of skills have you found invaluable? What would you suggest I focus on developing during my college years? I plan to write for the student newspaper and intern for a publishing house- what other opportunities would put a competitive edge on a resume?

    I was recently introduced to your work and felt inspired to ask for your advice. As child, I read through the entire juvenile section at the library, so I appreciate your advocacy for reading! I can’t wait to read The Very Fairy Princess to my niece. Thank you for demonstrating an obvious passion for literature!


  5. Emma says:

    Kendra –
    Thanks for your nice words. Are you aware of NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute? You can find out more here:
    Of course, interning at a publishing house is the best way to get your foot in the door. Many editors work their way up through the ranks from intern to assistant to editor. Most importantly, keep reading. There’s no better education than that!

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