As BookExpo 2010 opens, American Bookseller Association (ABA) membership is actually up slightly. Its growth comes at a time of significant revenue and cost pressure within the publishing value chain.
Tough times can bring out the worst or the best in businesses, and the current recession/depression appears to have spurred both innovation and a focus on bread-and-butter cost management among independent booksellers. That’s a breath of fresh air when compared with the knee-jerk responses to change offered by some publishing leaders.
A second, positive sign: IDPF’s co-located one-day event, “Digital Book 2010“, sold out this year. More than 580 publishers, suppliers and industry consultants spent the day before BookExpo exploring the possibilities of digital content, with hope, not hysteria.
Both of these point to the helpful light at the end of the tunnel: publishing will not always shrink. The companies that prosper are more likely to be the ones whose staff have spent the lean times preparing to grow. Defending the old order is no recipe for success.