And the good news doesn’t stop there: thanks to the Kindle and the iPad, people who three years ago would never have strayed within 500 feet of a bookshop (and still wouldn’t) can now buy the latest James Patterson as easily as downloading Angry Birds. People who weren’t reading for pleasure, now are. This is good.
Even more interestingly, Amazon has extracted from amber the DNA of pamphlets and short stories (and maybe even serial novels) and given them a chance at new life in the form of Kindle Singles. A whole series of startup publishers — most notably Byliner, whose debut title Three Cups of Deceit made headlines in April — have launched to feed the reading public’s hunger for essays and long-form journalism in ebook form. Twelve months ago, long-form journalism was being kept alive on ventilators — today, it’s thriving on the Kindle Single bestsellers list. Hell, Ars Technica made $15,000 in a single day after publishing their review of some Apple thing or other as a Single.
So, yes, given that the publishing industry is thriving, new formats are emerging, dead formats are coming back from the grave and top flight authors are making tens of millions of dollars a year, it’s something of a stretch to argue that the golden era of books is over. Moreover, it’s considerably less of a stretch to argue that the golden era of books is now.