The forthcoming apocalypse

There are rumblings around publishing blogs about the forthcoming apocalypse. What apocalypse, you ask? You know–the apocalypse in which all of New York publishing crumbles to dust under the onslaught of a vast supply of 99 cent books, which force the market price of a book to that of an iTunes download. That apocalypse.

Everyone seems to be making a bunch of predictions about what will happen, and I figure that I’m about as qualified to prognosticate as anyone else out there. I am confident that every single one of these little gems will come true in the following five years, so read ’em and weep.

  1. A lot of people are going to make a lot of claims using figures that were gleaned through confirmation bias. The word “data” will be used when the person means “anecdote.” Multiple anecdotes will be strung together and pointed to as “data,” and statisticians will weep and gnash their teeth and talk about the need for random sampling to no avail.
  2. Really good books will be published, which makes me happy as a reader. Some of those books will have a low, low price, which will make me happy as a consumer.
  3. Crappy books will also be published, priced anywhere from $400 to $0.99. Hopefully I will avoid most of them.
  4. Really good books at a reasonable price will always be in demand.
  5. There will not be enough really good books available to satisfy the most voracious and/or picky of readers.
  6. Thus: reasonably good books will also be in demand.
  7. Crappy books will not be in significant demand at any price.
  8. Some really good books will still have disappointing sales, and fans will be baffled.
  9. Not all really good books will come from New York.
  10. Not all crappy books will come from indies.
  11. People won’t agree on whether a book is really good, but if everyone agrees that a book is crap, it probably is.

If 99 cent books were going to destroy the nascent ebook industry, I would think that Project Gutenberg would have done it by already. There’s a massive number of REALLY GOOD books available for free–and yet people still buy the latest Stieg Larssen. People buy the latest Courtney Milan, for that matter, too.

5 thoughts on “The forthcoming apocalypse

  1. Thank you, as always, for a level-headed response. I agree with all of your predictions! I do have two related questions:

    1. Isn’t the apocalypse scheduled to start with Judgment Day on May 21? I’m pretty sure I read that on a billboard. And maybe on the side of a bus.

    2. Does “Courtney Milan vs. Loretta Chase as the authors of the top two historical romances of 2010 in DABWAHA” feel like a sign of the apocalypse to you? Because if I were you, that’s how I’d feel. Not that you don’t deserve it, because you totally do, but WOW.

  2. Thanks, SonomaLass.

    1. Is it? Huh. I’ve been hearing that for a while.

    2. DEFINITELY. I am kind of shaking my head on this one. Seriously. Loretta Chase v. Courtney Milan. Should I just roll over and hope she doesn’t hurt me too badly?

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