Technology and Publishing

Crosley:  It’s certainly becoming more technologically inclined on every end. You’ve got your Kindles and you’ve got shows like this. You have online advertising marketing towards blogs, things like that. Print on demand. But I think every five minutes, someone heralds a giant change in publishing and it’s a pretty whole business. I feel like it’s expanding and I think it’s making small changes for the better, but I don’t think it’s markedly different than it was 40 or 50 years ago. I think what’s different is people care less about books and therefore, the industry reacts to that, but I don’t think it’s changing in terms of the quality of work, in terms of what sort of passes through the gauntlet. We publish a lot more books now than we used to but I feel like every five years, about, there’s a piece in the New York Times about how paperback originals are the new thing. There’ll be a piece about how we should do it just like the British do, until you Ian McEwen and until you’re J.K. Rowling, no hardcovers for you, sir. I know because I helped place those pieces; that’s what I do. It’s great because it’s a great way to mention the paperback originals that have recently been published, but it’s all a vehicle. The trend pieces can sometimes be kind of false. I think that paperback originals specifically because I work them, I can speak to them better than the entire state of publishing. I think that they’ve gotten a lot more respect in the past three to five years. David Mitchell decided to do Cloud Atlas. When they said they were going to make my book a paperback original, talk about putting your money where your mouth is. Of course, I said go for it. It’s essays by an unknown author. Good luck making that in hardcover.

Question: Are you looking forward to Kindle 2.0?

Crosley:  No because my eyes are bad. I don’t think it’ll replace books. I think it’s a great device. I do. I just can’t imagine it being a real threat to the printed word. There’s some other device that came out from Amazon, wasn’t there, like four or five years ago, that wasn’t as sophisticated as the Kindle but everybody sort of saw it as the heralding of the end of an era. That’s it. There’s no more binding. There’s no more lying by the beach and spilling your book in water and having it ruined. There’s no more old smelling paper and everything’s done. But people fundamentally like to have books on their shelves. I think we’re sort of nostalgic as a culture and it’s a marker of when you read to actually look at the actual book. It’s kind of an amazing thing if you think about it. You don’t get that looking at the side of a DVD case the way you do with the spine of a book. And if nothing else, then for totally superficial reasons. Hardcovers sell exceedingly well in Los Angeles. Paperbacks tend to have a mixed bag. Part of the reason that happens is because people want to put it on their shelves. It’s a visual thing. It’s an object. I don’t know if that’s the best motivation to keep the printed word alive, the same way, oh, this is my copy of Dubliners that my great grandfather gave me. It doesn’t really matter though. I don’t think it’s going anywhere.

Crosley explains how the industry is changing.

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