Thursday, January 13, 2011

What's That I Smell?

... Oh, yeah. It's the winds of change.

A few days ago I read in the Los Angeles Times that The Mystery Book Store in Westwood will be closing at the end of the month. This is the last bookstore in Westwood, aside from the one at UCLA. While I didn't frequent the store, it is always sad to see book stores disappear.

Last week I had to make a doctors visit in Encino. I drove out early because whenever I am in Encino I stop by the big Barnes & Noble on Hayvenhurst. It's a great store, with the largest and most well stocked children's section I have ever seen. Their YA section is unbelievable. I drove into the outdoor mall parking lot and was surprised to find so many open spaces. That was unusual. But what was even more unusual is the Barnes & Noble was GONE. A big, hulking empty structure stood before me. It was like the book store equivalent of a ghost town.

Borders is in trouble as well. They are trying to cut a deal with publishers to accept notes in exchange for the money they owe them. Some of the money they owe the publishers goes to pay us--uh oh!

Truth is, it's a new day, people. A while ago I read the book Hit Men by Fredric Dannen, about the music industry. I was surprised to discover that when record albums came along the music industry didn't like them very much. They didn't like it when CDs came along either, even though, as it turned out, both record albums and CDs grew sales. When Television came along the movie industry feared it. But TV went on to help grow and promote the film business. To this day the biggest way films are promoted is on TV. If there was no TV, the film business would probably have died a long time ago.

Fast forward to when MP3s came along. The music industry fought them vehemently. And now the music business is in free fall. You see where I'm going with this? Change is inevitable. There is always a downside to change, but the more we resist it, the more it winds up biting us on the butt down the road. What we need to do with any change in our lives is figure out how to make it work for us--or at least coexist with it.

I grew up hanging out in libraries and staring in the windows of bookstores wishing I had enough money to buy a book. I loved book stores. I still do. But change is in the air. The internet is fast becoming a new generation's book store. I'm not saying give up on the old. I will always love book stores. But it is time to embrace the new.

We are readers and writers. The good news for us as readers is books aren't going away. In fact, even more books are being offered to us, at lower prices. And yes, there is even more crap out there, but there are amazing gems out there today as well, gems that we would not have been exposed to in the old model. As writers there is also good news. Books aren't going away. There are now more opportunities for us to connect with readers than ever before. We just need to figure out how.

I was very nervous a few months ago when I made my deal with White Whisker (an independent publisher) for Boyfriend From Hell. I wondered if people would think: "This one is with an independent because it isn't any good?" But that was my fear of change talking. So today I am going to be fearless. I am sniffing the scent of change, and you know what? It is sweet.

What are your feelings about the changes in publishing?


  1. I think publishing is getting stronger, but that's not why I am actually writing you. I wanted to give you the Stylish Blogger Award. I wanted to share your site with everyone. Hope you accept awards. If not, then, just my admiration on a cool blog.

    Dana @

  2. It is so sad when bookstores close. I love the feel of a real book over my kindle. I think publishers should continue to make good books for us aging readers.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  3. I agree with you, Linda. I think there will be good books and book stores for a long time. Just fewer and fewer.

    Thanks for entering the contest.

  4. This is a great post on an important topic, and not just for writers. I think part of the rise of indy publishing is the one-two hit that publishers and giant bookstores are giving the general public. While Amazon and the Kindle are driving change at lightning speed, bookstores seem so SLOW to respond. Every time I go into a big chain bookstore it's a 10-minute transaction with the buyer's advantage card shpiel and the free magazine gimmick and all the other shenanigans. Meanwhile, big publishers are relying more and more on the same 2 or 3 dozen writers, leaving room for smart -- and fast -- indies to pick up great writers like yourself. Sorry for the rant, but your post lit a fuse and it's such a complicated issue with one foot in the past and the other in the future. Thanks for listening...

  5. Hi Rusty,

    thanks for the post. Yes, whether we like it or not, the world is changing. We can either complain about it, or find a way to make new media work for us. Hey, 5 years ago I would not be having this conversation with you. Accept change or get left behind.