MultiGrain Discussion: "Gloom and Doom"

by Tom Gilson, Associate Editor,

In a recent post to Scholarly Kitchen (The Eve of Destruction,” Now on YouTube), Joe Esposito bemoans the “gloom and doom” that the publishing industry is constantly mired in. “It is the prevailing narrative, and it has been at least since I got into this business 30 years ago.” Joe even notes some of the things that he thinks are contributing to all the pessimism like:

  • “Library funding … in secular decline
  • digital technology alter the cost structure of publishing
  • competition from other media
  • the open access and “information wants to be free” movement
  • established markets are growing slowly
  • firms like Google, Amazon, and Apple showing little curiosity about (and some contempt for) the practices of investing in content
  • some people do not view copyright as benignly as most publishers would like them to”

However, he seems to be saying all of this is overblown and that we’re not on the “Eve of Destruction” pointing out that:

“perhaps we may find some solace in the bare facts of the case. The demands for information and analysis have never been greater. The consumption of text (increasingly on screens) has never been greater. The globalizing economy opens up new markets, especially for English-language publishers. The explosion in the amount of information and media types puts greater emphasis on reliable guideposts…”

Obviously, Joe has his opinion but ATG wants to know where you fall on the “gloom and doom” continuum?  Are publishers and the publishing industry toast?  Or is there hope for the future? And if Joe is right about “solace” he finds in the “bare facts of the case,” how can/are publishers taking advantage of them?  And what is the library’s role in this  scenario?

Kick back!  Take a little time to ponder it.  Then let us know what  you think.

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4 thoughts on “MultiGrain Discussion: "Gloom and Doom"

  1. Seriously, librarians, publishers, and authors should take one big prozac and move beyond Doom and Gloom. It’s time for a web site that fact checks those who don’t get the story right. Throw in a web site on new careers and one that predicts lotteries.

    Doom and gloom? I’m reading the same book on my Kindle, IPhone, IPAD, and Nook while listening to a streaming version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers because I left the i Tunes stuff elsewhere. Right here is an opportunity to sell me a 99 cent app that keeps my content straight.

    Now that we’re moving our reading to the cloud, won’t Jobs or Bezos “gift” Kindles and I Pads to the heavenly hosts? Once they’re in, how can anyone lose?

    I’m texting my MD now for a new script. Happy Labor Day!

  2. Talk about Doom and Gloom – I remember in the ’90’s when at every library meeting there was some program about how the internet was going to close every library in American! Now people go to the library to get ON the internet!!!

  3. Any industry or company that is mature is difficult to grow rapidly, and it is natural that advances in such cases only attain a “steady” rate. When you look around and see other industries and businesses growing at a rate of knots it is understandable to wonder “why not us?” and “are we in trouble?”

    That said, like Joseph I am a natural optimist and the change facing publishing actually does provide a growth opportunity that perhaps has not been seen for a while.

    I agree fully that content consumption is growing and will continue to grow healthily thanks to the multitude of opportunities to consume, thanks to the ability to consume in smaller chunks and thanks to a shrinking world.

    This should be a time for young publishers to grab the opportunity that their online upbringing and therefore inherent skills and knowledge offer them. Perhaps the changes are a concern for some, but what a great time to be joining the publishing industry.