Last night I discovered David Kirkpatrick’s marvelous report on the publishing crisis, researched for the Authors Guild in the late 1990s. His data-set shows that the number of books sold annually increased steadily through the late 80s and into the early 90s, and has been declining from that peak.

This timing exactly correlates with the height of the American Booksellers Association’s education programs’ success at inducing many people to open new indie bookstores — which were joined in the market shortly thereafter by the Barnes & Noble and Borders superstore expansion.

The subsequent collapse of several thousand indie bookstores correlates directly with the decline in unit book sales numbers. (David doesn’t make this point, however.)

Clearly the superstores were and are directly responsible for the decline in book-buying (and book-reading) in America.

Clearly now is a great time to reverse this trend. If we love books, if we believe Americans need to be reading more books, it is our OBLIGATION to reverse this trend. If you are reading this blog, you may be a possible future independent bookstore owner. Take this life option seriously.

Here’s the link to David’s report:

http://www.authorsguild.org/miscfiles/midlist.pdf

 

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