Joseph J. Esposito
We asked readers how they discover and purchase books
When Joe Wikert and I first began talking about doing a survey of readers’ book-buying habits, I had something specific in mind. While every day brings news of another publisher starting up or perhaps of a new online community for readers or authors–and sometimes several in a single day–most of these new entities will disappear in time, some to be swallowed up by a larger entity, others to simply turn out the lights. A small number–two or three in any given category–might manage to stick around for the long term.
And, yes, only two or three: as the hard economics of the Internet makes clear, the Internet is not for wusses. It’s an undemocratic medium with a small number of companies lording it over the thousands of champions of the Long Tail. A safe prediction is that the multitude of book-related sites will be winnowed down to a small number in time. But what will those sites be and what will characterize a successful book-oriented service in the coming years?
Where do you go for information when making a personal purchase?
When I moved recently from the West Coast to the East, I had to part with many beloved things. Friends and a great climate, of course, but unexpectedly I had to leave behind a clutch of wonderful bookstores, where I would browse for hours on a Saturday afternoon, buying many more books than I ever had the time to read. Bookish tourists should stop in Santa Cruz, CA and visit the marvelous Bookshop Santa Cruz and the great used bookstore, Logos Books. The more academically inclined will want to step into The Literary Guillotine, which features many titles selected by the faculty of the local campus of The University of California. But here where I now live, in Westchester County, NY, the bookstores are few in number and all lack the charm of my former hometown.
To grow, publishers must either battle other publishers over market share or identify and serve new markets. Which brings us to interstitial publishing; publishing between the cracks.