It's no secret that various types of publications have been dying a very slow and painful death in the decades since personal computers were first offered to the public. Over the past 20 years, newspapers and magazines, especially, have been scrambling to reinvent themselves in order to stay afloat. Some modest ventures have paid off for some publications; but the industry continues to shrink, and probably will continue to shrink until it's no more, or at least relegated to isolated pockets of small mom-and-pop businesses scattered across the globe. I do hope the small business side prevails and the industry DOES survive somehow, some way. Right now, though, things look pretty bleak.
Book publishing has fared only slightly better than newspaper and magazine publishing. Electronic book sales have helped a little, but they aren't even close to replacing the print industry just yet. And this past week, the book publishing industry was dealt a painful blow. Interestingly, the blow came from the cancellation of two magazines: Editor & Publisher and Kirkus Reviews.
Since 1884, Editor & Publisher, though primarily an information source for newspaper publishers, provided a very important service for professionals in the publishing industry -- it helped us FIND WORK anywhere a position was open. One didn't necessarily have to specialize in newspapers in order to find work via Editor & Publisher -- the entire print and publishing industry was often represented.
If you think the Internet has made finding publishing jobs easier, that's a wrong assumption. There are too many people trying to electronically file their resumes with publishing companies these days. Companies are being SWAMPED with such applications, as filing electronically has become way too quick and easy for most people -- particularly those who aren't even qualified for the jobs in question. As a result, many publishing companies have stopped perusing their email or Web-based sources for potential employees and are looking instead for old-fashioned, snail-mailed paper resumes. Companies know that someone willing to put in the effort and resources to mail them a paper resume and cover letter is worth considering -- and job-seekers know that a company that advertises in a publication like Editor & Publisher really and truly has a position to fill. Without Editor & Publisher, and resources like it, it's become much harder to figure out who in the USA, Canada, or other countries has positions to fill. It's still very difficult to sit down at a computer and search through publisher Web sites for openings, especially since publishers tend to come and go very quickly, and it's too easy to overlook some of them. CareerBuilder and similar services are useless because, as already stated, the volume of electronic resumes is way too high.
Then there's the death of Kirkus Reviews. Since 1933, Kirkus Reviews was a single, trustworthy source used by every part of the publishing and motion picture industry to find out what books and authors were out there, what was worth reading or purchasing, and what wasn't. Kirkus Reviews supplied publishers, libraries, film producers, and more with reviews of over 4,500 titles a year, covering all genres. It helped libraries and booksellers decide what books to have in stock; it helped publishers find authors; it helped filmmakers find ideas for movies and TV shows ... Now it's gone, and there doesn't seem to be anything on the horizon to replace it -- no one, single, reliable, reputable source anywhere, even on the Internet. Hopefully someone somewhere, somehow, will step in to provide the same services. Right now, though, there's nothing in sight.
For me, the fall of Kirkus Reviews is particularly painful, because it gave me my first review -- a favorable one -- for my first novel. It also helped to get my novel into libraries across North America. I don't know who or what will do that for me now. I'm grateful for what Kirkus Reviews did for me. I'll miss it.