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5 Books on the Business of Books

This post originally appeared on Book Riot.

If you were following Book Riot on Instagram two weeks ago, you know that many of the contributors were in New York for Book Expo America, the publishing industries big shindig for the year. I didn’t get to go this year, but one of the things that interested me last year was thinking about books from the business side and learning about what those business decisions are.

To ease my BEA envy and get me ready for next year, I found five books (existing and out soon) on the business of books that I am looking forward to reading.

Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century by John B. Thompson — This is the book that sent me down the rabbit hole in the first place after an author friend recommended it. In the book, Thompson looks at the entire publishing chain, from retail stores to agents to publishing companies to ebooks. Although it was written in 2010, it still looks like a useful primer on publishing.

Rebel Bookseller: Why Indie Bookstores Represent Everything You Want to Fight for from Free Speech to Buying Local to Building Communities by Andrew Laties — A look into the world of books wouldn’t be complete without reading about independent bookstores. Laties, a bookseller, looks at the growth and fall of bookstore chains, the impact of online bookselling, and the swell of support for local indies. Laties also tells the story of his rise as a bookseller and some of his best suggestions for the survival of small stores.

Hit Lit: Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century’s Biggest Bestsellers by James W. Hall — Hall, a creative writing professor and thriller writer, takes a look at what makes books becoming blockbusters including common traits like glimpses into secret societies or representations of the American dream. I’ve got this one on my shelf right now and I can’t wait to dig in.

Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading by Jason Merkoski (Aug. 6) — Merkoski, a digital pioneer who helped launch the Kindle, takes a look at the ways electronic reading is changing how books are produced and discovered. Although the phrase “Reading 2.0” in the book description has me a little suspicious, I can’t help think this will be a must read for anyone interested in ebooks.

Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus and Giroux by Boris Kachka (Aug. 6) — Even though Hothouse isn’t out until August, I’ve seen some early positive rumblings on this book, a look at the history of a publishing company responsible for authors like T. S. Eliot, Susan Sontag, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Jonathan Franzen. This one looks gossipy and wonderful.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Shannon @ River City Reading June 14, 2013, 6:32 am

    I’m really curious about Hothouse, I’ve heard the same great things. I recently had the book Amy Falls Down show up in my mailbox, too, and though it’s fiction, it seems like it will be a funny peek into the world of publishing as well.

    • Kim June 17, 2013, 9:29 pm

      An ARC of Hothouse arrived at my house today and I am super excited. I may break my prohibition on taking review books on vacation just so I can read it.

  • tanya June 14, 2013, 7:56 am

    I love reading books about the book industry. Maybe that could be a whole sub-genre, books on books. I’ve read Rebel Bookseller and Hit Lit has been on my list for a while. I’ve also read a really good one about the Canadian publishing industry. The name escapes me, but if you’re Canadian it makes a good read.

    • Kim June 17, 2013, 9:30 pm

      I think there are multiple subgenres — books on reading books and books on the book industry. I bet you could do a week of posts like this on different books about books.

  • Andi @ Estella's Revenge June 14, 2013, 8:40 am

    These look amazing. Definitely an area I’d like to learn more about.

    • Kim June 17, 2013, 9:30 pm

      Me too. I know we all hate to think about publishing is an industry, but it’s also a good thing to learn about.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) June 14, 2013, 9:15 am

    Great list of books! When we were at the F, S & G party, they were talking about Hothouse and they all seemed to be excited about its publication.

    • Kim June 17, 2013, 9:30 pm

      I saw a lot of buzz coming from people at BEA, so I’m curious.

  • Jennifer June 14, 2013, 9:50 am

    Books about books…how can you go wrong? Great list!

  • DoubleDarrell June 14, 2013, 11:36 am

    “I read a book about the Canadian publishing industry – the name escapes me – but you should read it, you’ll like it.”

    Wow! That’s a classic!!

  • Anastasia @ Here There Be Books June 14, 2013, 8:45 pm

    I’ve read Rebel Bookseller though I can’t actually remember that much about it (and I’m fairly certain I read it before I started blogging, anyway, so I can’t go back and check) BUT I do remember liking it and wishing I had my own indie bookstore.

    Burning the Page looks very interesting– although, like you, I don’t like the whole “2.0” sort of thing. And surely reading is now on 5.0 or something: from tablets to scrolls to codices to…;)

    • Kim June 17, 2013, 9:31 pm

      Yeah, I don’t get “reading 2.0” since the act of reading is still the same even on an ereader? It’s not like the words are formed differently. But eh, it’s probably a minor quibble 🙂

  • Charlie June 16, 2013, 12:05 pm

    Interesting. I would mind reading the bookstore one in particular. The reading 2.0… it’s kind of difficult to relate an internet idea to reading, I have to agree with Anastasia.

  • Athira June 17, 2013, 6:03 pm

    I like the sound of Burning the Page. It would be fascinating to read it. I’ve still not gotten used to the idea of reading on an ereader (of which I have a very ancient one).

    • Kim June 17, 2013, 9:32 pm

      I have one of the very first Nooks. I like it for specific kinds of books, but don’t use it nearly as often as some other people. My mom, curiously enough, is almost entirely an ereader now.

  • Jennifer July 3, 2013, 6:43 pm

    All of these look so incredibly interesting. I’m definitely going to copy this list over into my own TBR list! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and discoveries as you work your way through these!