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10 Ways To Save Publishing

1. Buy a book from an independent bookstore
I know it’s hard to pay $27 for a hardcover when you can get the same book on Amazon for $17. But it’ll be sad when all the independent bookstores are gone, when we won’t be able to walk down the street and browse the latest fiction and nonfiction releases. You don’t have to buy all your books there, but buy one at least every quarter. And if you use an e-reader, you can now buy Google Ebooks at these independent bookstores.

2. Buy a book from any bookstore
Buy at least one book per month, whether it be from an independent bookstore, a chain bookstore, a big box store, or an online e-bookstore. Every dime you invest in the publishing industry will make a difference.

3. Frequent your local library
Libraries have to buy books, too, and the more often those books are checked out, the more often they have to be replaced. So while I encourage you to buy at least one book a month, using your local library, too, will help keep publishing alive.

4. Give e-books a try
Whether you like it or not, e-books are the way of the future, so why not give them a try? I hear so many people say they can’t imagine reading a book on a screen, but you know what? I couldn’t either. And now I have an iPad and I love it. I love curling up in bed with the lights off and reading into the night like a kid under the covers with my flashlight. I love being able to read on a plane, on a train, and while I’m driving (kidding!) And if I had a smart phone, I’d be reading standing in line at the post office and at the supermarket, where I don’t carry my e-reader. You don’t have to give up buying paper books, and I hope you won’t. But give e-books a try, too. Test one out on your iPhone or borrow someone’s e-reader for an hour (or test out the color nook at your local a B&N). They’re pretty fun.

5. Read for 10 minutes every night
Author Sean Cummings started a Facebook Page encouraging everyone to read for ten minutes before bedtime. Then he designed a website called Save Publishingto match. Like the page, then get offline and read for ten minutes before you go to bed.

6. Give someone a book
The next time you need to buy a gift for someone, make it a book. If you’re not sure which book to buy, get a gift card from a bookstore (not an Amazon gift card; that could be used to buy diapers!)

7. Join Good Reads, Shelfari, Library Thing, or all three
Spread the word about the books you are reading. This will others ideas for good books to buy, and it will make them feel guilty that they’re not reading more books. Good! They should feel guilty! Put the peer pressure on.(You can post what you’re reading on Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In, too.)

8. Create a book list
Add a list to your website or blog of all the books you have read this year. Include comments if you have time, or rate each book. Like joining a social networking site for reading, this will a) Give others ideas of good books to read and b) Make them feel the need to read more books than you. That’s what we want. We want people to read.

9. Join a book club
If you can’t find a book club to join, start one. This will force you to read at least one book per month, to discuss it with other people, and hopefully to recommend it to others. By the way, here’s a pop trivia question for you: What book was Juliet’s book club discussing on Lost when Oceanic Flight 815 crashed? No fair googling it! Put your answer in comments.

10. Read to your kids
Rather than letting your kids watch TV, read to them. And when they are old enough to read for themselves, encourage them to read. Take them to the library; buy them books; set an example by reading in front of them. And if all else fails, require them to read for at least twenty minutes each night before they go to bed. We’ll breed a whole new generation of book lovers, and that will keep the publishing industry alive.

What ideas do you have for saving the publishing industry?

24 comments to 10 Ways To Save Publishing

  • Kristan

    I totally Liked that 10 Minutes Before Bed page. 🙂

    So… like me, most of your readers probably DO want to help publishing to survive this time of change and to evolve into a new, stronger force. However, I recognize that not everyone feels that way. Not everyone cares about publishing as we know it. So what I like about your list is that it's not just about how to "save publishing" — it's also about how to promote literacy, and a culture that values written stories in addition to the ones we see on-screen. 🙂

  • Mark Williams

    Does publishing need saving? I'm intrigued by your premise here, Meghan.

    No question publishing and book-selling are going through monumentous changes, and those that are unwilling or unable to adapt will go to the wall.

    The loss of huge stores like Borders is of course a tragedy, but dinosaurs become extinct. Are less books being sold since Borders closed? Less paper, perhaps, but e-books are surely more than countering that, and ebook sales will increase exponentially as technology improves and the range of available titles is widened.

    I can't see that publishing and book-reading per se are seriously in decline. In fact, just the opposite. I see a future where readers have far more choice and get far better value for money.

    Of course there will be casualties along the way, and real people will lose real jobs in publishing, printing, book-selling, distribution, et al. But the epublishing revolution opens up huge new opportunities for those willing and able to take advantage.

    Agents and editors will need to adapt and change, for sure, but their skills and service will still be needed. More so than ever before as the indie movement finds that quantity alone cannot compete with quality.

    The big publishers are investing hugely in digital, however much they try to appear aloof from it all, and at the end of the day they will make more, money, not less, as the industry stabilises in the new world where paper will be the luxury niche.

    I agree with everything you said bar the reason for saying it!

    Living here in West Africa books are a rarety and few people are brought up in the culture of reading. Ebooks, as ereaders become cheap enough to be available worldwide, could help transform the reading prospects of literally millions of people who will never see a "real" book.

    And back in the industrialised world the elderly, struggling to hold a paperback open, or no longer able to see the print size, are finding e-readers have given them a new lease of reading life.

    As e-reading becomes the norm I can see nothing but a bright future for publishers, readers and writers.

  • sierragodfrey

    I love lists like this even though I'm not the one who needs to do any of this, because I do it already! Last night I should have been enjoying a 3 hour stretch of sleep while the baby slept but instead I had my book light on and spent a good hour and a half of that time reading. I love reading so much, and especially now it's like my own private ME time.

    • meghancward

      Good for you, Sierra! And after posting this late last night, I felt obligated to read for ten minutes even though I could hardly keep my eyes open. I love reading before bed because it helps me to fall asleep.

  • But I Get Up Again

    I'd create a "bucket list" of the great books I should-have-read…. would give you some great searches to do and bring you into contact with some great people & ideas

    • meghancward

      My list would be embarrassingly long. For as many classics as I've read, there are so many I still have not read. And I love classics. Sigh. It's a great idea, though.

  • Alta Peterson

    I think there are always pros and cons when it comes to changing technology. For some reason I am much more ok with reading non-fiction via a screen, but when it comes to fiction I want a printed book and nothing else will do.

    • meghancward

      That's interesting! I've read both fiction and nonfiction books on my iPad and love both. And yet it's strange – after a year of reading mostly e-books, I've been starting to crave hard copies again. I'm reading both now.

  • cherrytomato

    As someone who's worked in publishing for over a decade, I appreciate this post, and most of your suggestions. However, I have to point out that in fact, you can curl up with a book – not just your iPad – in bed, on a plane, on a train, while standing in line at the post office and at the supermarket.

    • meghancward

      Well, of course you can 🙂 I should have been more specific – I can curl up in bed with my iPad WITH THE LIGHTS OUT so my husband can sleep – and as for trains, planes and automobiles, the distinction I meant to make is that I can carry a whole library of books with me – not just one. And I love that.

  • Great ideas. I would add: try to speed up the business model. Taking so long to do everything has got to mean it's harder to make money.

    • meghancward

      Hey Trav – I guess that's one of the big advantages of self-publishing. I'm tempted to self-publish something just so I can experience the whole process for myself – how difficult it is, how expensive it is, how time-consuming, etc.

  • meghancward

    Haven't they come out with a waterproof e-reader yet? The next generation!

  • Mark Williams

    You're right, of course. At this point ereaders are beyond reach of the vast majority of people on the planet.

    But so were mobile phones a year or two back. Now even in remote villages a mobile phone is an affordable lifeline (often literally) as our First World rejects (as we constantly upgrade to the next want over need device) are donated to charity and find their way here. With wireless internet and mobile phone services the prospects of the world's poor is being transformed slowly but surely.

    Ereaders will come down in price and the milions of Kindles we love so much now will be obsolete in a year or so and hopefully in containers heading for parts of the world for which they were never intended

    I take my Kindle round schools here and the interest is phenomenal, from both pupils and teachers.

    A class of fifty may share one book here. Books are difficult to import and distribute, and the expense of getting enough books to go round for each class is impossibly high.

    A dozen donated pre-owned e-readers (one per desk of four or five pupils) loaded with more books than they'll ever need, easily charged via a solar adaptor, could transform the prospects of so many.

    And it's a given that this year's must-have Kindle, nook or whatever, will be sitting unused in a drawer next year as we all upgrade. Hopefully many will find their way abroad for a new lease of life.

    I agree too that the elderly most able to benefit will often be those least likely to take advantage, but just as with computers and the internet, the "silver" market is growing daily and will continue to do so.

    No question paper publishing is in decline, but that's just a means of delivery. The digital future is bright!

    • meghancward

      I love the idea that my iPad 1 may end up in African one day. What charities collect iPhones and send them overseas, btw? And you're right, we'll all be silver eventually. (Well, I won't. I'll be dying my hair until I die.)

  • sweetbutterbliss

    I try to read to the girls everyday. And I always read before sleeping. There's nothing better then clean sheets, clean pajamas and a good book. Maybe some tea. And I read to my girls everyday.

    • meghancward

      Anastasia – so glad to hear that you read to sweet, butter, and bliss every day! We read to our kids every day, too, and they LOVE books. (I hope that sticks. I hope they don't give them up for video games when they get older.) And clean sheets, clean PJs, a good book, and a cup of tea sound heavenly right about now.

      • sweetbutterbliss

        I just realized I said I read to my girls everyday twice. I really want you to know! They already do sometimes play video games. I have to put the kabosh on media time sometimes. Even for myself.

  • lindseycrittenden

    It's true that we writers are probably already buying books/checking out books/reading before bed, but I'm glad to get some new ideas here. Love the bucket list, but I'd probably need a dumpster to fit them all. Oops, not the best metaphor — I meant the size, not the purpose. I've recently rediscovered Lydia Davis — her collected stories out in a pretty new paperback (ah, the physical object!) from Picador. Paid for it at a staged reading at Z Space, where a local bookstore was there selling copies. Yay. And if you haven't already, check out Word for Word, and add "Listen to stories read aloud" to the list.

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