Pre-Frankfurt Survey

The funny thing about any industry is that it’s often the people who work *inside* who are the last to appreciate what is happening to ‘their’ industry. They continue along their merry way, defending their turf against ideas that appear threatening, until the day comes when the industry has evolved so dramatically that their attempts at change seem ludicrous. Think American car manufacturers in the 1970s as the Japanese invasion was shaping up. Or closer to home (and at the risk of boring everyone) the Music Industry since the development of the mp3 file format. In both instances, consumers saw something new (and with advantages of cost, accessibility and quality – at least in the case of Japanese cars v American cars) and embraced that new thing, forcing the old to adapt or die.

Now, I’m the last to argue that change is inevitable. Rather, I’m simply making the point that industry insiders aren’t always the best people to turn to for predicting the future. So, read the Guardian’s report of a pre-Frankfurt Book Fair survey of “top book industry professionals” in that light. Despite that, at least a few of them see the writing on the wall, so to speak…

Almost a quarter of the 1,324 industry professionals who took part in the survey predicted that the high street bookseller would no longer exist in 2057, while only 11% thought that the printed book would be obsolete.

(Update: For those not in the book trade, Frankfurt is one of the world’s largest book trade fairs, where much of the wheeling and dealing of who and what gets to publish who and what takes place.)

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