The Death of Publishing

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.
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Richard Kaufman
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The Death of Publishing

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 30th, 2008, 6:36 pm

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Steve Bryant
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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby Steve Bryant » December 30th, 2008, 7:56 pm

Very sorry to read of the closing of Olsson's. The store in Georgetown was one of my favorite bookstores to visit, ever. For many years it was the only place I could acquire P.G. Wodehouse novels, imported from England.

JHostler
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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby JHostler » December 30th, 2008, 8:24 pm

Nah - publishing just needs a quadruple bypass. The market for flashy collector's tomes like Revelations '08 will persist; most niches will just shrink. Heck, at an average print run of 500 - 2000, magic publishing - by most standards - never took its first breath.

It'll be interesting to see how media and distribution systems adapt over the long haul... and how these, in turn, impact the content. (Paging Mr. McLuhan...) More viral... more e-... personally, I'll always hold out for a nice crisp hardback.
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David Alexander
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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby David Alexander » December 30th, 2008, 9:31 pm

Sad, but not surprising. This has been a long time coming. My favorite bookstore, the one I grew up haunting, cashed in last July. Acres of Books in Long Beach, California, in business for 75 years, sold their building to the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency for nearly $3. Who could blame them?

See this for a take on Acres by a guy named Bradbury, who I ran into more than once at the store: http://www.acresofbooks.com/The%20Press.htm

He delivered his forward to my book there as I lived in Long Beach at the time and it was a good excuse for him to get Stan Freberg and several other guys, rent a limo and do a tour of bookstores, as was their want.

See the obituary in the local paper here: http://www.presstelegram.com/news/ci_10009704

This is sad and the kids who won't have the experience of getting lost in row upon row of books is a loss they will never understand.

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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby Chris Aguilar » December 30th, 2008, 9:35 pm

David Alexander wrote:
This is sad and the kids who won't have the experience of getting lost in row upon row of books is a loss they will never understand.

Well, unless they visit their local library I suppose...

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Dustin Stinett
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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby Dustin Stinett » December 30th, 2008, 10:08 pm

I'm pretty sure David is talking about stacked to the ceiling new and (mostly) used bookstores with an eclectic mix of books that commercial bookstores like Borders will never carry. There's nothing like it (certainly not librariesyou cant buy the books) and they are disappearing fast.

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David Alexander
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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby David Alexander » December 30th, 2008, 10:22 pm

Dustin is correct. My post was about the death of a beloved used book store. I thought Acres of Books was huge until I discovered the "back room" when I was a kid. That's where they kept the fiction! It seemed to go on forever.

The "decor" of Acres was row after row of jury-rigged shelves, often just orange crates stacked/nailed one on top of the other. I have no idea how they passed inspection by the Fire Marshall. The aisles certainly weren't large enough for a wheelchair.

Over the years employees had cut out pictures from various sources and stapled them to the ends of the boxes. It was an eclectic mix and gave the place a unique look. I was showing the place to James Randi one afternoon when he pointed out a picture I hadn't noticed - A small photograph of "Alexander, The Man Who Knows" in full costume.

As I was a regular customer and known to the owners I was allowed to pry it off the end of the crate and take it home without cost.

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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby Stuart Hooper » December 30th, 2008, 10:48 pm

Acres of books was definitely an experience. Glad I got to see it one more time in August, sad to hear that it finally went.

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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby David Vamer » December 31st, 2008, 2:56 am

Stan Freberg....OT, he is one of the funniest human beings to ever walk the planet.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 31st, 2008, 1:47 pm

You can still have the experience at the Strand in New York City. What an amazing place.
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Erik Hemming
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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby Erik Hemming » January 1st, 2009, 9:02 am

Catch them while you can.

Bookstores that offer their inventory online will be insulated for a time.

And (many) great booksellers will continue. But not all. The bookstores mentioned in the article, Olsson's, Cody's, and certainly Powell's are among the strongest and best run in the country. That means retreat and closure, for them, was a smart business decision. That should give everyone pause...if only to consider what it might mean.

Publishing has changed already. The great houses have concentrated and combined. Self-publishing has burgeoned. With the contraction of the economy, we will likely see some of the great houses diminish further. The universal availability of used books on the internet will continue to chip away at the economic viability of many publishers.

Places like the Strand, Powell's, Seminary Co-op in Chicago will likely continue to be browser havens...for those who enjoy the sensory experience of a good book shop...the visual density, the smell and the tactile joy of a well-made or long-sought volume.

But the best bookshop in the world can't contain the variety and the access I have by opening another browser window and searching any one of a dozen specialized sites.

So, catch 'em while you can....

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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby Furneaux » January 1st, 2009, 11:38 am

The New York Times article had some mistakes. Cody's is not the last general interest bookstore in Berkeley. There is Moe's Books ( 4 floors and doing very well ), Black Oak Books, Shakespeares, and the 2 Pegasus Bookstores ( We broke records this holiday season ) and other stores.

Cody's was done in by extremely poor business decisions, first by new owners who admitted they didn't have any book-knowledge and then by the Japanese company that bought them, who attempted to apply business models that were absurd for the Bay Area and american bookselling. Cody's didn't fail because of the changing climate but because of gross human mistakes.

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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby Erik Hemming » January 1st, 2009, 12:05 pm

Correction appreciated, Furneaux. In regard to Cody's, I was speaking of Cody's old owners....

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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby Bill Duncan » January 1st, 2009, 2:42 pm

In the PNW we have Powell's ( http://www.powells.com ) which offers that same magical experiance. Not just a library of volumes, but a place where there's a palpable sense of discovery and wonder.

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Kevin Connolly
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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby Kevin Connolly » January 4th, 2009, 1:30 pm

Please visit my website.
http://houdinihimself.com/
I buy,sell + trade Houdini, Hardeen items.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 4th, 2009, 2:34 pm

That's a different story: the store is successful but the owner died and there's no indication the store is going to close.

Another magazine is going out of business, by the way. My wife was getting it--Cottage Living, I think. We got a postcard announcing it was ceasing publication and our subscription would be filled with a different magazine published by the company.

Here's a link to a story about all the magazines that have buckled and gone under in the past 12 months:
http://adage.com/mediaworks/article?article_id=132779
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Jim Riser
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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby Jim Riser » January 4th, 2009, 4:33 pm

Kevin;
The L.A. Times article brought out some interesting points like the ad never being widely accepted in the world of books. This is an indication of why many publishers fell upon bad times. They were not taking full advantage of their own media.

Many of the machinery, gear cutting, watch/clock making, etc. related books in my library contain ads in the back of the book for other texts by the same publisher. This is not a new concept as some of my texts are from the early 1900's. I do not understand why this practice was not more widespread. It was done in several magic publications. It is the cheapest form of advertising and gets directed to the desired market - who is already reading one of the publisher's books.

For years I have walked in to the bigger bookstore chains and quickly glanced over their latest "feature books". All the time I was asking myself if anyone was buying all of this crap. Apparently not. Because someone writes a collections of words, does not mean that it should be published.

Reading, as illustrated in the L.A. Times article, is assumed to be merely another form of entertainment. The assumption is that reading must compete with all other entertainment options. This may not be entirely true for a large number of readers. I tend to buy non-entertainment types of books. I will seek out such goodies as The Modern Watchmakers Lathe and How to Use It, the Turret Lathe Operator's Manual, Gear Cutting for Horologists, CAD manuals, etc. I want to extract information from books not escape from reality. I like reality. So for me books are not mainly an alternate form of entertainment but a source of information. Unfortunately, such modern books tend to be superficial and written by someone other than an experienced expert in the field. Therefore, publishers are missing out on selling to readers like me.

This is where magic books come in. Like all books, there are some that never needed to be published. I have a fairly nice magic library and a good number of these books contain incorrect information. I do not like to waste hard earned money on books full of such drivel - distortions of magic history, incorrect methods, etc. I have become extremely picky in the last few years about the magic books that I purchase. To get my bucks, publishers need to provide a good description of the contents of each book. I'm not about to buy mystery magic books. If the book has as little as one item well done that I am interested in, I'll probably buy it. Too many magic books contain nothing of interest to me. I buy magic books like I buy machinery books - for information not entertainment. I am capable of entertaining myself.

There are a number of business concerns affecting the publishing industry which can lead to big losses or insufficient ROI. It's a specialized world which needs to be brought in to the present. Those who can not adapt, will become history. We currently have some very good magic publishers. Buying from them will help reduce inventory expenses so that funds might be available for future great books. In spite of the current fad of buying DVD's, books remain the better investment. One problem in magic is that many of those buying items are lazy. It is easier to passively sit and watch a video than it is to actively interpret the written word (but no where near the fun). Ideally a text and associated video would be offered together in a package deal.
Jim

David Alexander
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Re: The Death of Publishing

Postby David Alexander » January 5th, 2009, 6:34 pm

There's something off when a magazine, even a quarterly like "O at Home," can't make it with a paid circulation of 700,000.


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