Books as sweaters redux.

Sweaters, widgets, fads; growth industry?

According to the Book Industry Study Group’s Albert N. Greco, "The book business has been around for centuries. It’s a mature business, and it’s hard to get tremendous growth."

This another way of saying that, historically speaking, the book business has been very successful. It’s hung around a long time and mostly managed to satisfy its customers, the identity of which–readers–it has effectively targeted and the outer boundaries of which–extending to and stopping at nonreaders–are generally well known.

It seems to me that those involved in the book business as it is currently configured would do well to keep Greco’s warning in mind. "Tremendous growth" beyond the confines of those human beings who read isn’t just unlikely. It’s hard to know why anyone connected with books would want to see such growth at all, unless, perhaps, it’s predicated on a sudden and intense improvement in American education or a permanent dimunition of interest in the other forms of media to which current nonreaders gravitate, either of which might result in an increase in book sales. Since neither is going to happen, at least not anytime soon, why the "book business" would want to diminish the value of its product by demeaning and deforming it in the effort to put it into the hands of nonreaders is beyond me. Steady sales of good books among serious readers seems to me a perfectly sound business strategy. Otherwise, produce some other piece of merchandise for which "tremendous growth" is not only possible but is its primary reason for existence…  (cont.)

I agree.  This is the common confusion of growth and sustainability. 

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