I read two articles on Christian publishing, sort of a point/counterpoint with (industry veteran) Phillip Yancey and (newer writer) Karen Yates. Readers might be tempted to sum up their differences as pessimism vs. optimism (or “old-school” vs. “new-school”). You can check my summaries against the original articles by clicking the article titles.

First article summary:
"Farewell to the Golden Age," by Phillip Yancey

Christian publishing industry (printed books & magazines) is shrinking. 
  • Dwindling numbers at publishing conventions (participants & attendees). 
  • Christian bookstores closing at alarming rate. 
  • Authors, publishers, and booksellers -- all losing money. 
Three causes of radical changes -- and profit loss -- in publishing: 
  1. Newer publishing technology (in self-publishing & e-books).
  2. Free & cheap digital content.
  3. Shift toward purchasing from online sources and discount chainstores.
Impact of self-publishing technology for new authors: 
  • Good: anyone can now publish a book.
  • Bad: (a) author funds it, (b) author markets it, (c) bookstores don’t stock it, (d) market is flooded. 

For writers: 
  1. Can quickly make books available.
  2. Can bypass “gatekeepers” and publish themselves. 
For readers:
  1. Low cost per-books.
  2. Convenience of purchasing digital books.
  3. Access to countless books on one electronic device.
For writers: 
  1. Decrease in royalties with cheaper books. 
  2. Competing against free/ultra-cheap content. 
  3. Competing in a flooded market. 
  4. Difficulty getting books noticed in overwhelming selections of online stores.
  5. Magazine markets dwindling. 
  6. For self-published e-books: author must do the marketing
For readers:
  1. Decrease in writing quality in many quickly-released books. 
  2. Countless potential distractions when reading on tablet computers. 
  3. Distracted reading means less assimilation of content. 
Quote from his article: "The books in my office [are] my friends—marked up, dog-eared, highlighted, a kind of spiritual and intellectual journal—in a way that my Kindle reader will never be."
Tomorrow I'll post a summary of Karen Yates' article (on Christian publishing) from Christianity Today. 

July 29, 2014

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