E-books or tree-books?
I went with four other members of Exeter Writers to a local printing workshop, to finalise our order for our 2014 anthology, 'The Coastal Zoo', which will be launched on March 22nd. Before our meeting, the manager showed us around. In the office were two or three people busy at their computers, and in the factory itself were at least ten more, tending to the machines. Very quiet and clean these days. And everywhere there were books of all shapes and sizes, from tiny 'pocket' books to huge glossy hardbacks.
'How's business?' we asked, after we'd sealed the deal. As a writer, all you hear is that the publishing industry - or at least the paper side of it - is shrinking fast. Sales of e-books outstripped 'tree-books' last year, and if you extrapolate from that, the actual book that you can hold in your hand is a vanishing species. But his answer was quick and confident. 'We did really well last quarter - busier than ever, in fact.'
'Is that because more people are self-publishing?'
'Not only that. We're getting plenty of orders from publishers too, big and small. I don't see printed books disappearing any time soon.'
Which was a good thing to hear, though at least one of us thought it was just sales hype. Maybe it's to do with the prices, which have come down quite a bit with the advent of digital technology. I'm an optimist, and I'm very fond of real books, so I'd like to think it's true.