When I tell people that I work in publishing, they tend to say one of two things:
Awesome! I have this friend who’s just a phenomenal writer!! Would you like take a look at his manuscript?!
Is that like a lucrative field to be in? I mean, aren’t books on their way out.
To both questions I say, Absolutely NOT. First of all, I don’t even read manuscripts at my job and especially not unsolicited ones. Secondly, I refuse to believe that books will ever be “on their way out.”
Publisher’s Weekly tweeted this really great article by Michael Bourne partly about the misconceptions of novel writing in the-increasingly-digital-trending-world we live in (and partly about Jonathan Franzen). How can a book compete with a viral youtube video in popularity? The answer is, it can’t. Nonetheless, new writers are shelling out serious cash on MFA programs and flooding the industry with fantastic new books like “The Tiger’s Wife” and “Swamplandia” (which I am officially adding to my ever-growing list).
Books will never be “on their way out,” because they are an oasis in a world of constant-advertisement-bombardment and general over-stimulation. Like Bourne points out, have you ever had to fast forward through commercials while reading a book? I think this salient point is true even if the world stops printing books altogether in favor of e-readers.
Think about it this way: buying a book is similar to buying a movie. Once you flip through the introduction/fast forward through the previews, you are good to go until the end when you close it/turn it off. (However, I tend to think books are better. Think about film adaptations of books like Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, which are definitely not as good as the book–same goes for Gone with the Wind.)
As long as there are kids out there who prefer reading to social interactions (I was/am guilty of this), we will have both readers and future writers.