Seasons Greetings Fellow Blurberati,
Those of you who have not been following the mainstream book publishing business may be unaware that the industry has been hit hard in recent weeks.
Wednesday, 3 December has become known as Black Wednesday as Random House folded five divisions into three, eliminating the jobs of two top editors (with more layoffs likely to follow), Simon and Schuster laid off 35 people, Thomas Nelson (religious publishing powerhouse) laid off 10% of their workforce, and Penguin announced widespread pay freezes. And all this was on top of the previous weeks’ news that Houghton Mifflin was no longer accepting any new submissions.
But while I feel terrible for those who have lost their jobs, this story does have a remarkably positive ending, so please read on.
Sara Nelson, Editor in Chief of Publisher’s Weekly, had this to say about Black Wednesday, ” But I don’t really worry, in the long run, about publishing itself. Because if there’s one thing that history has shown it is that when the dust settles – and it will settle– there have always been stories, people to read them, and people to produce and disseminate them. Whether those stories (and people) will be part of large corporations, whether the stories will be measured in pages or bytes, and whether there will be hundreds of thousands of them produced every year—well, that we’ll have to see.”
So here’s the good news I promised earlier. The answer is already hundreds of thousands. Books, that is. And that’s just Blurb’s contribution.
While mainstream publishing is indeed undergoing painful changes, the personal publishing business is exploding. Before the year is out — and in only our second full year of product availability, Blurb will have produced over 750,000 books. We have written checks in excess of $300,000 to those of you who elected to sell your books for profit in the blurb.com bookstore this year alone — and nearly three quarters of a million people have downloaded Blurb’s BookSmart software in total.
During our peak week this holiday season we were seeing a new book title come in every three seconds. Many of these books are personal books — but increasingly, we are seeing folks previously published the old-fashioned way make their way over to Blurb.
We are particularly proud that Rick Smolan, the former Time/Life photographer and noted book author (America 24/7 sold in the hundreds of thousands of copies) chose Blurb to publish Natasha’s Story, a personal project he started more than 30 years ago; it is now a book of great beauty and grace.
So, I think Sara Nelson is right. Stories will be told and companies (like ours) will be there to assure they get produced and shared. In huge numbers. Globally.
Created by you.
Happy New Year everyone!