Three Questions: Part Five

Part Five in the Three Questions series! This time round we hear from Chris Fischbach, Publisher at Coffee House Press. If you're new to this seven part series, see previous posts for the three questions.

Answer #1

If we take the notion of "book" as it exists now, I think that electronic
will probably gain a bit more ground over the next ten years, but that
lots of people, I would hope the majority, in the literary world, will
still be reading the book, as we know it, in paper. But I could easily be
wrong. Mostly I'm just thinking about the audience for our books, not
necessarily Jonathan Franzen or somebody like that. Blockbusters I'm sure
are about half e-book right now and will still gain in the future.

However, probably we will see different kind of "interactive" or
"multimedia" reading experiences emerge on e- in the next ten years, and
there will be some arguments about whether or not those are books at all,
and they won't have paper counterparts.

Answer #2

Convenience and price. It's about distribution and availability. Very few
people would argue that the "reading experience" is a better one. I
certainly won't. I don't' have a problem with e-books, and often they are
convenient or cheaper, but those are the only reasons I would read that
way. I read manuscripts on an e-reader.

To be clear, I'm not a luddite. I just am not that excited a out e-books,
at least as they exist now.

Answer #3

Are you kidding? They have an enormous amount of power. Like anything, or
almost anything, it's very old fashioned and all about power brokers and
relationships. It's not a very big world and so money talks, as usual, and
so do "old ways of thinking" and who-went-to-college-with-who. However,
sometimes, luckily, other stuff breaks through.

Look at the tremendous amount of press George Saunders got this past
month. He's a great writer, sure, but that wasn't about merit, it was
about flexing power in the industry to make something happen.


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