September 22, 2008
The Crystal Ball
When anybody talks about the future of publishing, the impact of the digital world is always front and center. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. It is having and will have a massive impact. Tom Woll acknowledges as much in the conclusion to his book Publishing for Profit, as well. But what is really interesting, I think, are his predictions for brick and mortar stores, which many prognosticators ignore.
Eventually, he says, superstores will find that stocking a wide array of inventory that doesn't sell won't make economic sense--and therefore having 50,000-square-foot stores won't make sense either. In a few years' time the superstore strategy will revert to the mall chain strategy.
When that happens, surprise! The independents will return to the scene. Those, he believes, will tend to be more focused on certain genres like history or mystery or travel.
Is his crystal ball clear or cloudy? I'd be interested in what you think.