Death of the Publishing House


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I recently started reading the works of Paulo Coelho and I fell in love with The Alchemist. I even posted it as a status update on my Facebook and my Twitter. Less than two weeks later, a free eBook was advertised to me via my Facebook account (as I am one of those who rate the ADs broadcast to me, therefore, my FB ADs usually don’t vex me by  killing my sidebars).

Skeptical and cynical, I clicked it anyway, hoping it was telling me the truth. The literary geek inside of me was more than excited to get a free book to read by my new favorite author. After visiting the link to the Harper Collins website,  I started wondering about the future of print books in their entirety. With a  failing print newspaper industry, are  publishing houses and print books the next in line to fall beneath the storm of digital publishing?

I don’t see the change affecting authors as much as those who work in the houses themselves.
If people stop purchasing hard copy prints, what will happen to those employees? That would mean more lay-offs, more pay cuts and more cut-backs in an already hard-hitting recession. Everyone would feel the change, from the CEO to the janitor. Though, I do think the janitor would be more likely to get axed.

Honestly, the only good I can see coming out of this situation would be cheaper textbooks for university students ($200+ USD a book? Geeesh!). That is, of course, unless the likes of McGraw-Hill and friends plan to gauge every penny out of students online as well. Nevertheless, I simply cannot picture world without hard copy books.

There is something about the sweet smell of freshly printed literature, the feel of the crisp pages begging to give you a paper cut and the slick, smooth finish of a book’s cover. Holding one of these precious artifacts enables our senses to delve into new worlds and experience each adventure by turning the page. It is pure, hardcore , delicious literary porn.

Paulo Coelho has infamously endorsed free copies of his books, reasoning that everyone should be give the opportunity to read. I completely agree with this. Especially, since I have watched the price of books escalate over the past few years. A few cents here and a few cents there, has amounted to more than a few dollars everywhere.

And with rising literary prices, came the emergence of eTrade sites like Paperback Swap. Paperback Swap allows its members to swap their books free of charge, except shipping costs, to one another. They have even opened sister sites: CD Swap and DVD Swap.

However, freedom of information aside, there is just something special about flipping through a novel, a newspaper and a magazine. I am not quite sure I am ready to give up that magical experience on a whim for convenience.

If we have to give that up, what is next?

Chips in our brain to broadcast the radio to our ears, while changing the station with a remote control?

I would rather not, thanks.

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Sasha H. Muradali runs the ‘Little Pink Book’ and SashaHalimaPR.

 

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