Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Death of Books?

You know, you wouldn't think this recession would hit a little ol' magazine like the Dew, which charges nothing, accepts most stories, and tries to stay out of the way of the big boys.

Well, believe it or not, the Dew feels it too!

Actually, what the Dew is feeling is sad these days.

As you know the Dew reviews books for many publishing houses. It has a lot of contacts and enjoys very much being "in the business" as tiny as it's "in" might be.

The Dew usually receives several books a month from different publishing houses. If it requests a book, a reply comes quickly and it's generally positive. The Dew admits to being a bit spoiled.

Well, the recession has hit publishing very hard - the raising price of books before that didn't help matters when everything started to go south. Large independent city bookstores that I remember from my youth are closing by the day. Chain stores sell nothing but the top few sellers. I've heard that several publishing houses didn't even pick new books up this season. Their inventory was too large from the last.

Last week I sent off a flurry of emails to various houses regarding 4 or 5 Southern natured books I saw out there in Bookland. I was confident in my emails and assumed that replies and books would be forthcoming.

Well, it was a harsh surprise when several emails came back as contact unknown. Apparent layoff victims there. The others... well, not one single email was answered. Not one. Perhaps everyone was laid off and only a few were deleted from their systems before I sent emails. Perhaps the emails lay dormant in piles of unanswered letters from understaffed offices. Perhaps these companies are so bowed under that they don't care if the dinky little Dew reviews one of their books.

The Dew hears from a lot of writers who are frustrated by the lack of response they receive from the publishing houses and we always have, in the past, offered encouragement to stay the course and keep trying because they could be discovered one day soon.

What happens if there are no publishers left to discover them and no bookstores left to sell them? What if sites like the Dew disappear for lack of input?

Folks, I am in a somber mood tonight.