The publishing industry is in the same boat as the newspaper industry. Both are dealing with digital formats that are quickly changing the way people read and consume content, but neither industry has quite figured out how to utilize that digital aspect to a full extent. When those formats are ironed out the industries will be just fine. Neither books nor newspapers are going to go away.
With that being said, successful author and writer James Patterson is calling for the U.S. government to bail out the publishing industry. For some background, Patterson's books have sold millions of copies and he is on four New York Times bestseller lists. He isn't exactly in need of a bailout, nor is the publishing industry.
Patterson called for the bailout in an advertisement placed in the New York Times Book Review and Publishers Weekly. It asks, "If there are no bookstores, no libraries, no serious publishers with passionate, dedicated, idealistic editors, what will happen to our literature?"
The same can be said for the newspaper business. If there are no newspapers or magazines, where will people read news that matters? Where will our news come from if not from editors and writers all over the world?
Answer: Newspapers aren't going to go away. Yes, the business is in a bit of a recovery period but it is slowly climbing back now that the digital formats are coming into play.
The publishing industry is doing the same. Books won't go away either. People still love to have a physical copy they can flip through. E-books and readers are becoming increasingly popular but publishers and writers are still making money through those formats.
There might not be a bookstore in every town, and the bookstore chains are down to a select few, but that doesn't mean the industry needs government support. There are bigger issues to worry about, and even then everything isn't taken care of by the government, but I digress.
Patterson spoke to Salon.com, where he said, "I haven't thought about it," referring to what can be done for the publishing industry. Awareness is great, which is what the ad was meant for, but the call to arms falls on deaf ears. There aren't as many publishing companies as there used to be, but books are still being published in physical form as well as electronically.
If Patterson is in fear of losing America's literature he shouldn't be worrying or putting his name on advertisements that say so. Because it has become harder to publish a book due to few publishers, there is a strong independent publishing - self-publishing - movement happening. While the benefits of self-publishing are arguable, because of E-books the younger generations are reading more.
While the publishing industry and newspaper industry will eventually move to digital formats, they are safe for now. News will still be written and produced, and books will still be published. In other words, don't panic.