BEST AND WORST OF TIMES:
THE CHANGING BUSINESS OF TRADE BOOKS, 1975–2002 uses
interviews, historical research, observational sessions and a detailed
study of bestsellers and best books to understand the present, touch
on the future and give history its due.
Veteran publishing journalist Gayle Feldman carried
out this project during a National Arts Journalism Program research
fellowship at Columbia University.
During the past quarter century, publishing has undergone
tremendous change, driven primarily by consolidation, new technology
and a general cultural shift in favor of celebrity and mass entertainment.
Consolidation has taken place in every sector, from publishing houses
to booksellers to distributors and beyond. As for new technology,
only consider that 25 years ago Amazon.com did not exist. And Oprah,
among others, has taught us about the role of celebrity in the lives
of books, authors and readers.
Some of the headline-making challenges and difficulties
we see in the book business today were already predicted more than
a half-century ago. Some of what we regard as "change"
isn't change at all.
Although the past few decades have brought serious
distortion and increased pressures to bear on the business, they
have also brought previously unimagined levels of opportunity. By
studying both the wider context and the books themselves, this report
analyzes these changes and how they have manifested themselves for
good and for ill.
: Publications : Research
Reports : Best and Worst