This editorial illustration by Joost Swarte accompanied a NYT article on whether traditional bookstores can survive in the digital marketplace?

The state of publishing, circa 2030?

The state of publishing, circa 2030?

This curious, no-picture calendar is a creation of the curiously named “Manufactory For Garbage Publications.”A literary version of the dumpster diver, its editors scavenge the streets for words.

Twice, every year, the people in the German city of Karlsruhe, clear their attics and basements of all manner of printed detritus. Municipal workers come to collect them the next day, but before the garbage men arrive, the editors arrive.

They riffle through them, looking for a coffee-stained pamphlet here, a greasy print ad there, a tattered textbook near, a dog-eared paperback afar, and glean from them bits and pieces of text. They simply arrange them, adding nothing, but an abstract point of view. 

“Publishers used to tell readers what was hot. Now it’s the other way round.”
— From The Economist article, "Of Brooms and Bondage," which argues, “Today, a bestseller must usually appeal either to young people (who use social media a lot) or women (who dominate reading groups).”

The publisher of the ever-popular “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, thought, “Well, why not start selling chicken soup for the body? After all, those for the mind sell so well.” 

And, now, comes a new line of hearty chicken soups, to be sold in glass mason jars.

Drowning In D.I.Y. Books.

Far from disappearing, paper books may abound in the future.

“Print-on-demand” publishing is about to do the same thing to books as did the office printer to printing: trigger a boom in D.I.Y. paper-based books.

Consider: In traditional print publishing, the number of new titles increased by 5 percent from 2009 to 2010, rising to 316,000. In contrast, print-on-demand and self-publishing boomed by 169 percent—hitting a stunning 2.8 million unique titles.

The downside?

As with blogs, most D.I.Y. books will be dreadful and treasured only by their authors.

Even as more readers take to e-books for their convenience and low prices, publishers are paying more attention to a book’s aesthetics.

There are indications that an exquisitely designed hardcover book can keep print sales high and cut into e-book sales. For instance, “1Q84” has sold 95,000 copies in hardcover and 28,000 in e-book—an inversion of the typical sales pattern of new fiction at Knopf. 

(Via NYT)