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V12 2009 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 22, May 31, 2009, Article 13

IS NUMISMATIC BOOK PUBLISHING BUCKING A NATIONAL TREND?

Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on the state of the publishing industry and numismatic literature publishing in particular. -Editor
Last week the book industry met in New York City for their annual conclave where booksellers, authors, editors and publishers gathered. Discussion among some 30,000 attendees, obviously, was how to combat a beleaguered book demand drastically affecting the industry.

Audio books, for example, had observed half their market evaporate. Sales across the book spectrum were down but it was uneven for all categories. "There's a feeling the old model isn't working," agent Anthony Arnove told the Los Angles Times. His specialty of historical fiction is finding a much harder time finding an audience, he said.

Rick Jones, chief marketing officer for Perseus Books, said their firm is searching for a format that will allow books to be -- in his words -- "more nimble, more conversational and more technologically adept." They were promoting a method to collate a book, design a cover and publish it in multiple formats within 48 hours. Sounds like they are honing in on publishing-on-demand.

And, of course, Kindle was on most everyone's lips. In one report I read it covered the portable book devices: "media maven Tina Brown cooed over the Kindle, but an electronic book reader, writer Sherman Alexie had harsher words.

"The physical presence of a book," he said -- "turning pages even sitting in the bathtub -- the relationship to the book won't be the same. It distances us from the book.

"Only a certain kind of book sells well electronically and thus limits what publishers will make available in that format. Eccentric writers will have even more difficulty getting books published. As a result, the Kindle will homogenize literature even more."

In contrast I have not observed a decline in our little specialized numismatic niche of the book publishing world. Without taking a physical count I believe more books have been published in each of the last two years than before. Could we be bucking the national trend?

Are numismatists still spending the same amount of money each year for numismatic books? I went to my check book register to discover I spent more last year for new numismatic books. But it was skewered with the $225 purchase of one new book, Bill Swoger's United States Commemorative Coins of the United States of America. In my E-Sylum comments (October 20, 1908 vol 11, no 42, art 3) I praised the content but criticized the book's cost.

General book sales may be down. But I am still buying more new books on -- what else? -- numismatics. Are you doing likewise?



Wayne Homren, Editor

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