Is Publishing in a Golden Age?

by | Feb 26, 2013 | Business of Publishing | 8 comments

Hachette publisher Michael Pietsch gave an interview with NPR recently where he said we’re in golden age for traditional publishers:

I think we’re in a golden age for books — reading, writing and publishing. And the ways that publishers can work to connect readers with writers now are the kinds of things that publishers have dreamt of doing since Gutenberg first put down a line of type.

The full interview is worth a read/listen.

Do you agree? Is this actually a golden age for publishers?

Art: Interior of a Gothic Church by Pieter Neefs


  1. Tapper

    It depends on what kind of "golden" we are talking about. If we are talking gold as in money, then the internet has certainly allowed certain books to explode in popularity and makes substantial profits. Books like Shades of Gray show the reach of the internet. But if we mean golden age as in the quality and innovation of literature… I just mentioned Fifty Shades of Gray, so that might be all I need to say about the quality of literature. There is still money to be made in books and always will be. As a reader, I am looking for books of real worth. They might be crammed between popular fads and internet sensations, but I have faith they will always be around for someone willing to look.

  2. Ted Cross

    I don't know how it can be when most of the younger people I meet don't read for enjoyment. I'm so glad I got my sons hooked on books.

  3. Anonymous

    As the Dowager Countess might put it: I think we're in A golden age of sorts, but this isn't THE golden age of publishing. I think that day came and passed. I tend to relate the golden age to a time frame between when Gone With the Wind came out and the 1990's. I know a lot of people who made a lot of money in publishing during that time period for just being in the right time and place (Bridges of Madison County.)

    I'm also not of the school that thinks big publishers will disappear any time soon. They still rule, indie authors are still struggling in spite of all the hype, and small start up e-presses have trouble paying their authors royalties. I doubt many will last for longer than a few years. There's also a lot of hype out now about indie published authors and books, most of which is not true…or it's exaggerated. But that's another post.

    I think the one thing most would find hard to argue is that there's never been a more interesting time in publishing.

    But I think things are changing now and we're entering a new age instead of a golden age.

  4. Mira

    I believe we are absolutely in a Golden Age of Publishing! We've never seen the likes of this in history: All writers can reach an audience.

    It's incredible, all voices can be heard. Controversial, of varied class, culture and race, visionary and critical. The impact on society will be profound.

    That's not even going into the ease of access and convenience of digital technology. Books will reach more people than ever. It's truly wonderful.

    As to whether this is a Golden Age for Publishers, well, that completely depends on the Publishers. They decide if they will re-invent themselves or not.
    If they don't, then no, this age will leave them behind. If they do, then….it's possible.

  5. Ernie J. Zelinski

    I believe that it can be a Golden Age for traditional publishers as well as for certain self-published authors. Traditional publishers can reinvent themselves and still be profitable.

    Self-published authors can also be successful and make a living from their creative efforts. But the ones that will make it are the 1-percenters. The 1-percenters are the ones that are more industrious and creative than 99 percent of authors. I have been self-publishing for over 20 years and have achieved a measure of success at this game (with over 750,000 copies of my books sold). I know better than to criticize and slam traditional publishers like a lot of the authors who are so gleeful about the "indie revolution."

    This I know: Traditional publishers and the 1-percenters of self-publishers will be publishing for many, many years after the Pollyanna authors excited about the "indie revolution" have gone on to the next latest craze, where again they be failures. For those who keep achieving success in the publishing industry, of course, it will be the Golden Age.

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    International Best-Selling Author
    "Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free"
    Author of the Bestseller "How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free"
    (Over 175,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller "The Joy of Not Working'
    (Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

  6. Elizabeth Seckman

    Yes, I do. Anytime access and choice is more plentiful…I consider that a good thing.

  7. Jess Stork

    I love the interplay right now between traditional publishing and ebooks. While I know a lot of other people think it spells doom, I think that there's a great sense of possibility right now. The ebook format is still relatively new, and somewhat unexplored. I think ebook formatting might even inspire changes in the structure of print books. Honestly, in the end, it's all storytelling, and there will always be new, exciting stories out there to be told.

  8. Heidi C. Vlach

    I think this era is too complex to be called completely golden. There are flecks of real gold, but an awful lot of mud, too.

    @Ted Cross: Plenty of younger people read for enjoyment, but they now have the option to read something other than traditional books. Online amateur fiction, for instance. Or ebook files on their smartphones. And young people often don't mention that sort of reading to older generations, to avoid "real books" snobbery or other kinds of judgement.


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