The publishing industry is suffering, along with just about every other industry.
It's refreshing to hear a little note of hope from the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association. "Authors are still creating books," said Tom Lowry of Lowry's Books. The book business is still very much alive, even if it isn't kicking with as much force as it once did.
Independent booksellers fell victim to the big box stores and the purchasing power of Amazon. There are fewer of them than there were ten years ago. Not exactly a bright scenario for those still standing.
At their recent conference, the association had to face tough choices to survive. The group's annual trade show will be a combined affair in the future; the need to cut costs means the Great Lakes group will join the Midwest Independent Booksellers in 2012.
GLIBA has made staff cuts as well, to ease the pressure on the bottom line when the organization has fewer members paying dues to keep the doors open.
Dire circumstances, yes, but those who love books can take heart in the knowledge that authors are still writing and publishers are still publishing.
It will be up to the indie vendor to develop a strategy to stand out from the pack, and often that involves outstanding customer service, product tie-ins, readings, and whatever else a shop owner can think of that the big boxes or the online store can't do.
The road is rocky and will continue to be rough in the foreseeable future. But there is a future out there, in a place where authors are still writing and publishers keep putting out books to be read.