As we continue to see the effects of the economy, 2009 is staying consistent with the lack of spending. What once was in the New York publishing world, has come to a halt and is seeing a new makeover (and not for the better). Publishers once lived in a world where champagne was plenty, limousines were the norm, and places hard to pronounce was the native tongue. Yet with the recession, layoffs and a decrease in publishing is setting the stage for cutbacks in the way publishers celebrate.

The numbers explain why parties once plentiful are now small in number:

“Book sales have deteriorated since the beginning of October, falling about 7 percent compared with the same period the previous year, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 70 percent of sales. That slide is driving much of the immediate cutbacks, but the publishing industry is also being convulsed by longer-term trends, including a shift toward digital reading and competition from an array of entertainment options like video games and online social networking.”

With these numbers and with more people turning towards newer (and less-expensive) means of reading, the publishing world is trying to keep up. However, with the economy the way that it is, the best way to keep up is simply to cut back. Many have considered publishers and the likes to have expensive taste- eating that is. Fancy restaurants are now less visited and what is becoming normal are telephone meetings or meeting over pizza and beer.

Aside from fancy parties and places, other aspects in the publishing world are being reviewed. Cash advances for authors (which for a while were increasing) are now being reconsidered. David Rosenthal, publisher of Simon & Schuster, states that:

“You used to buy some books and you paid X because you figured it would sell 100,000 copies. Now you have to do the math saying this book may sell only 50,000 copies.”

Some say there is a silver lining here though: since there are fewer books being sold, maybe less books should be published to help make up for lost profits. This is especially true when it comes to booksellers. “They need to have some sense of what is going on in the country and what the readers are really looking for,” stated Vivien Jennings, owner of Rainy Day Books, an independent. bookstore in Fairway, Kan. Booksellers won’t want to be overstocked with merchandise that is not going to sell. If more books are published and sent to a store, then the store is left with the item. To do what with them?

The store is left with no choice but to return the books to the publishers, which in turn, decreases profit even more. Reducing the price on  books (even more) that are returned might seem like a good idea to help boost sales, but many publishers argue that in a time where the economy is the way that it is, this may not have the outcome we would hope for. Returned merchandise, for the most part, is already slashed or offered at a great discount. All this brings back memories of the great depression, in which practices were created in order to promote bookstores to take in more copies of books.

Just like the phrase, “History always repeats itself”, many see this trend as simply that. Michael Korda, former editor in chief of Simon & Schuster, saw this in the 70’s and even cutback on his habits. In the end, “everybody went back to doing what they were doing before.” Will that statement hold true for 2009?

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