Publishing at the Tipping Point

Special to the New Communications Review by Danny O. Snow

Copyright © 2009, All Rights Reserved

A convergence of factors, both long and short term, is pushing the publishing industry to a tipping point in 2009. Unlike past “watershed” years, this one is not just wishful thinking or a hopeful prediction about the impact of innovative technology. The changes we are seeing today are real and lasting. As a result, some publishers (and related businesses) may not survive — but the book world as a whole will emerge stronger and better in the future.


  • Economic crises are forcing publishers to abandon wasteful, outmoded business models

  • Reading is growing, not shrinking, in spite of fears that younger people no longer care about the written word

  • e-Books are growing, but printed books are NOT perishing in the process

  • General bookselling is giving way to specialty marketing

  • Online media are supplanting traditional print and broadcast media in book marketing

In the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, long-standing foundations of the mainstream publishing industry began to crumble. Chain bookstores struggled more than ever; major publishers put freezes on acquisitions and downsized staff; leading daily newspapers dropped their print editions in favor of online distribution.

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