Doomsday Words

Dramatic apocalyptic background

“Nobody is buying print books anymore”

“Nobody is buying printed magazines or newspapers anymore”

“No one shops at bookstores anymore”

“No one is reading anymore”

“No one goes to the trade shows anymore”

“No one needs a traditional publisher anymore”

“Everyone should just self-publish”

When the speed of change is faster than we can easily comprehend, our language has a difficult time catching up with reality, so we have a tendency to use over-stated terms to describe what is happening. Our very choice of words open the door to making some very poor business decisions. How? Rather than seeking wise solutions by understanding the facts, we make fast decisions based on incomplete information. Simply…it’s faster.

Nobody, no one, everyone, always, never, etc.

Not limited to publishing, over-stated language fills our political process, the financial markets, our personal lives and even our churches.

The Truth

Overall, eBooks represent about 25% of all book sales…so digital-only books miss 75% of the market.

Print magazines, newspapers and trade shows are a lot alike…they reach a point where the cost cannot justify continuing, even though hundreds of thousands of people still read them or thousands of people attend an exposition. Readers Digest declared chapter 11 bankruptcy but had millions of print subscribers.

Bookstores still sell half of all print editions of most books. Sure, it is less than it was years ago, but it is still significant.

Traditional publishers still publish hundreds of thousands of new titles every year and account for significant majority of all books sold. Alternative methods of publishing have surpassed the title output of traditional publishers, but hold a small % of the overall dollar and unit volume.

So why use the word “nobody” to describe 75% of the market or “no one” applied to something that still holds a majority of a segment’s business? Information and facts always make things complicated.   Wise decision-making is harder to come by. Take time, see the truth, then make wise decisions and hold realistic opinions.

As the great social commentator and sage Yogi Berra once said, “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”

7 Responses to Doomsday Words

  1. Ron Estrada August 13, 2013 at 4:23 am #

    We get the same thing in the RV industry. While the trends should not be ignored, the transition time from “traditional” methods to “modern” methods has always been a long one. We will certainly arrive at the day when the majority read their books on an electronic device, but that day may be decades away. There is no one point where we simply make the switch from old methods to new. And once the new method has the majority, you can be assured that something else will come along to start the change process again. Society is always undergoing change. It’s the one constant we can count on.

  2. Robin Patchen August 13, 2013 at 6:42 am #

    This is so true. Life is nuanced, and words like “nobody” and “always” gloss over the complexity. They become hyperbole. Only when we can see the reality of a situation can we properly respond to it.

    By the way, your Yogi Berra quote cracked me up. Thanks for the laugh.

  3. Meghan Carver August 13, 2013 at 7:02 am #

    It’s a cliche but true – never say never. Thanks for the encouragement and the amusing Yogi Berra quote, Dan.

  4. Vannetta Chapman August 13, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    I learned in grad school to watch exclusive terms unless I was very sure I could back it up. And Yogi Berra … who can argue with him?

  5. Rachel Muller August 13, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    Love the quote!

    Funny how things look from a different angle. I’ve learned from various threads on the ACFW loop that there’s always a flip side. So glad to hear this coming from an agent, though.

    Thanks for sharing this today and giving us “hope”. :)

  6. Evinda Lepins August 13, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    Dan,
    great post! There are trends changing in so many areas! My first career was as a court reporter and oh, my, there have been so many changes. In fact, when I first began the schooling (25 years ago)I almost quit because computers were just entering our worlds and that scared the bejeebers out of me. So, you, being an agent and your past experience in publishing, et cetera, have seen more changes than we as authors can stay focused on….. For everything there is a season and HE uses all seasons… Thanks for the reminder!

  7. Dawn Wilson August 14, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    Years ago, a wise teacher told me, “Never say ‘never’ or ‘always’ in your marriage; it’s a sure path to frustration and, possibly, destruction.”

    I think the same applies to the book industry. I’ve been telling myself, “If no one wants my book, I’ll just self-publish.” But perhaps that is a default position — giving in to the never/always mindset. Bottom line, I need to seek God and ask Him for direction, and trust that He will lead.

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