There has been an awful lot of talk lately about changes to the publishing industry. A lot of articles about publishing being a dinosaur, how it's just not working, how it MUST change and how new technology offers new methods of distribution and on and on.

Okay, so all this will affect my writing and publishing, I guess, but what I really want to know is, how will these changes affect my reading?

I read about 30 novels a year. I buy about 10 – usually hardcovers and trade paperbacks.

About 10 are given to me – there were a whole bunch in the Bouchercon bag (though I'll only read 3 or 4 of those), I review 2-3 a year for the Toronto Star, friends give me some and one of the perks of being an author is that my publisher lets me pick books out of their catalogue.

I take about 10 books out of the library. Some years I take out more, but I only read about 10 of them.

So, how will all these changes to the publishing industry affect me? I'd like to read more books but availability isn't the problem – hours in the day is the problem. Unfortunately, no amount of changes to technology will increase the hours in the day for me.

I can see how free downloads could replace the books I take out of the library – though I like my local branch, it's a friendly place and I've discovered some great books through the staff there. I guess bloggers could replace the staff as far as recomendations go, I've certainly found some great books through bloggers.

People will be able to email me more books and the give-aways at Bouchercon may become e-books on cool thumb drives or something if that's cheaper so there may be more of those. So, I may acquire more books this way, but I won't have more time to read.

And I'd still like to buy books. Sometimes I like to get them autographed.

So, what will change?

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I'm in a similar situation. I get a lot of free books as a reviewer, probably buy another twenty or so each year. The local library fills in the gaps when I want to try something I'm not too sure of, or if a book is hard to find.

That being said, I don't have much more time to read without turning it from a pleasure to an obsession. Readership may be down, but there's money in delivering reading material to readers, if those in charge of the delivery systems can find the way to best leverage it. Even if the current publishing infrastructure went down tomorrow morning, people would be willing to pay for reading material, and someone would find a way to give it to them for money. As writers, we should worry less about what form it will take and focus more on being flexible enough to accept changes to the business model as they come.
Remember when the hottest trend going was CD-ROM? Everything was going to be on CD, everything was going to be interactive, but then people started spending all day on their computer at work and the last thing they wanted to do was spend their evenings on the computer, too. Kids loved playing the interactive storybooks, but it just didn't replace mom and dad reading them a storybook at bedtime.
Books aren't going anywhere. They're still the best way of delivering stories. Economics will change the market (delivery methods will rise and fall) and that, as usual, will hurt writers — especially debut and mid-list authors. But is that really any different from what's been happening for years now?
The industry used to spot raw talent and shape it (take Michael Crichton, for example. His editor said he would buy The Andromeda Strain if he completely rewrote it — several times) but now you have to have a NY Times best-seller out of the box.
The market will shrink and talented writers will fall by the wayside never to be discovered because the rejection got too much. We'll all miss out on some wonderful unread stories, but, sadly, that isn't new either.
Readers will continue to read and, hopefully, fresh talent will find a way to squeeze its way in between the Sure Things and remind us why a new voice can be so great.
I've just become the proud owner of a Sony eReader and I have to say that I love it. In the last couple of years I have been reading less books for one reason or another, but since I've had my new toy I have read more in a week than I did in the last month. It will never replace a real book for me but with 151 books on it I will never run out of stuff to read on a plane again. I can get it out of my handbag and it comes on immediately. I can now read manuscripts people send me - I've had two for months - in the last week I've finished one and just started another.

I bought several books at Bouchercon, have read one which was excellent (which just happened to be by a certain Mr McFetridge!) and I am just as excited about crime fiction as ever. There is so much wonderful new stuff coming out, plus old favourites who never disappoint.

Personally, I think publishing is pretty OK :o)
I've been reading less since I started writing, but reading is an obsession for me. I usually keep two books going simultaneously, one in the house (where I like to read in bed) and one in the car in audio format. I see that one of my books is on Kindle and doing better there than in print form, so I'm a tad curious. I agree with those who believe books are here to stay. Our problem is that too many books get into print, to the point that readers just don't know about the new ones (no promotion when so many books are released every month) and are shy of buying unknown authors when so many turn out disappointing. They return to the same authors they've found before, even if they have become stale. And speaking of disappointing books: I just tossed (well, rejected after a few pages) three novels from the library (I don't take chances buying them) that looked great at first glance and turned out weak. I also just read a book by an author I used to like very much and found it agonizingly slow and very long. I skimmed the end because I didn't care what happened to the characters.
Thats why publishers keep repeating the same few authors and seldem give new guys a look in, they won't take a chance on poor sales. I think if readers could get a e-book preview of new authors befor buying a book, then the closed world of publishing could afford to opean up, especialy with POD books.
i love books in their solid, touchable form. I like picking them up and smelling the new, unturned pages. i buy less books than i used to when i was single, childless and mortgage-less and i've gone back to borrowing books at the library. our local library is great and has a lot of the more recent releases.

I don't know enough about the publishing industry to really comment but i know that fiction writers will continue to suffer due to the preference by publishers for non-fiction. As you have all commented, it's going to be harder and harder for new writers to make it. I really wish publishers had the time and resources for editors to nurture writers. Too many books that need a realy good edit are being published - both by new writers and established writers.
It's interesting the way these discussions keep coming up. I do receive a lot of review books for free, but I keep up my end in the buying stakes along the way - there's rarely a month goes by that I don't purchase at least 2 or 3 books - sometimes up to 10 depends on where I am and how the budget looks I guess.

But I don't own an electronic reader and I strongly doubt I ever will (although I did weaken a while ago and buy an MP3 player to listen to books whilst working in the garden - but I never remember to keep it charged so that's been a dismal failure of a plan). I suppose I'm now officially too old to be bothered with an electronic reader - and I don't have much need for one. Paper books work just fine for all the places that I read in.

I know the publishing industry is probably looking for ways to reinvent itself ... to be "more attractive" to the electronic savvy generation, but I personally think if they went back to seeking out good authors, mentoring authors, developing good editing, creating a quality product - rather than some of the appalling pap that they currently call "books" - they'd be a darn sight better off.
I guess if the only criterion you use to judge if things have changed is the amount of time you have to read, then no, nothing will change. But you've answered your own question above that. All those different ways to learn about new books and to have access to new books is a change, and while it may or may not change the amount of time you read, it might change what you read, because you will have access to a broader range of works by a broader ranger of authors and more ways to filter out the content, be it through blog recommendations, Amazon reviews, other online reviews, online forums, or whatever.

The music and film industries are already undergoing transformations. I have discovered a lot of new movies, music and TV shows from the internet, things I never would have known existed otherwise. Yet I don't have any more time in the day to watch or listen to those things, so nothing has changed for me? Hardly.

But if you don't want to change your habits, I suppose there may not be a change. There are still people who get the majority of their news from newspapers. The number is getting smaller and smaller, but those people still exist, even though the news industry has changed a lot. So if you want, you can still get your books from library recommendations and filter out the content through Publishers Weekly, and other print review sources, and keep doing things the way you always have. There's nothing stopping you, and as long as there are still print books and bookstores to buy them in and libraries to check them out from, you won't have to notice the changes going on around you. However, the option is there to join the "internet culture" for lack of a better world, and to explore the new changes taking place. What those changes are exactly, we don't know yet, but I'm sure the internet will play a big role.

So whether there will be a change, as a reader, is up to you. But you already answered what possible changes there could be. And I'm sure there are more possibilities that no one has thought of yet.
Okay, this is interesting. The convenience of an e-reader and more choices.

Like most people here I have a TBR pile, though mine is more of a TBR list and certainly when it comes to books I've never had a shortage of choices - small press, large press, old books, new books, there've always been a wide variety of books (I do have to rely on translation as I can only read in english and French). More choices would be great. So far the internet has been a good tool in making me aware of more books, and when I get my e-reader it'll be a good tool to deliver those books as well.

It looks like there'll still be need for filters, look how many people complain about all the 'crap' being published. The large amount of books being published that just aren't for me doesn't bother me and I suppose it will be possible that those filters will be online conversations - I've discovered a lot of good books here at Crimespace and on other blogs like Detectives Beyond Borders and International Noir (and, most of my reading isn't crime fiction, so I've found good stuff in other forums, too).

Still, those filters have all pointed me to books published by traditional publishers. Maybe it's still early days, but I agree with Donna, a lot of publishing is working just fine.

I keep hoping something will happen in the movies and TV to increase choices for me, but I have finally accepted the fact that I am just not the right demographic to be served by them. There was a time I could watch 3-4 shows a week and see a movie a month in theatres, but those days are gone. But that's just my tastes.

And it's true, I do get a lot of news from newspapers and magazines. There are a few good online sites, but man, you have to wade through a lot of shit to get to it.
Technology has enabled me to listen to a new recorded book each week while I'm in the car. I download the mp3s from the library (Overdrive media format) . I bought a Cybook ereader (after doing a lot of research about Sony and Kindle). I've bought some really fun ebooks that probably never would have been published had epublishing not evolved. Richard Curtis wrote a good piece on the traditional publishing business model and how it affects what we read. It's here :

The fact that books are 100% returnable by bookstores, and publishers pay shipping both ways really does limit the number of new books and new authors we get to see. So I think epublishing and some of the new small publishers that combine epublishing and small print runs are a good thing. That said there is nothing like a new paperback at the beach...
A few points before I go back to my NaNo project.

I personally enjoy the paper book and will not change.

I do a fair amount of beta reading. This forces the use of the computer. My soar eyes, stiff neck, tender elbow and abused mouse finger will testify to the weakness of the medium.
E-books are the way forward for any work you do not wish to keep. Myself I like books on shelves. As for time, there will never be enough and the problem stays forever.


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