By Peter Osnos
Jun 19 2012
Despite challenges faced by the publishing industry and past predictions, the written word has not seen its last day
In the mid-1980s when I joined Random House as an editor, there was widespread angst in the publishing industry about the growing role of mall-based bookstores -- Walden and Dalton were then the major chains -- because they emphasized bestsellers and genre categories such as science fiction and romance over literary titles and serious nonfiction. A trend toward discounting, led by Crown Books based in Washington, was another worry, opening the way to price competition instead of the traditional acceptance of prices set by publishers. Walden, Dalton, and Crown are all now gone, along with Borders, which was then becoming the up-market retailer because of its commitment to so many varieties of books and its innovative inventory system.
(But) Based on the record, I have one certainty: books will endure even as those of us responsible for them are in a perennial, sometimes frenetic contest to keep pace with change.