Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Art Books Ascending
It's always interesting to have your anecdotal experience borne out by statistics. Case in point: I couldn't tell you how many times in the past year or so I've had various publishing types bring up in conversation the idea that visual books, and specifically art books, are the ones that aren't going away. And I keep saying, yeah, I'd be a lot more freaked out if I were a fiction editor. The most voracious fiction readers, however fond they may be of the smell of paper (and they are), if they are in the ninty-nine percent and have to think about funds at all, have got to inevitably just be finding more and more that it just makes sense for them to buy nine-dollar ebooks instead of twenty-nine dollar hardcovers. But a visual book--at least with current technology--still really needs to be in good old-fashioned physical print-book form in order to function the way people want it to.
So, earlier this week, along comes a set of slides from a talk given at the most recent Publisher's Launch conference by Phil Ollila, chief content officer for great big book distributor Ingram. Well, it turns out one of the handy things about being a great big book distributor is that you have access to all sorts of interesting sales data. Including the info pictured above, about how sales of art, photography, design, and other visual books in traditional print form are on the rise, as fiction declines due to e-reader sales.
As an avid reader and lover of fiction in book form myself, I can't help but be saddened by this confirmation that the number of people walking into bookstores and buying novels really is decreasing. But as an editor of, and champion for, art books, I can't help but be heartened. To help me cope with my mixed emotions I present you with the above photo of one of the world's largest bookstores, El Ateneo in Buenos Aires, which is heartening by any measure.
Image source for top photo of The Strand is here, image source for bottom photo of El Ateneo is here