Are Publishing Houses a ‘Dying’ thing?

Last week, after sharing that that I’d want to work in publishing someday, somebody actually asked me this question. I was asked -and I quote- “Publishing. Isn’t that a slightly old-fashioned? Don’t you think it’s a dying line of work.”

My reaction upon hearing this


My thoughts on the matter

I think the GIF is a pretty accurate display of my reaction. The only reason I didn’t fall is because I was sitting down, but my mouth did pop open from utter disbelief. After pondering on this for a few days, and taking in stride the arguments this person gave me, I decided to jot down my thoughts in a post.

Are publishing houses a dying thing? Well… my answer would be a firm NO. And frankly it kind of baffles me that people seem to think it is. Maybe I am prejudiced because I am an avid reader, but I truly can’t wrap my mind around the idea that somebody would think that publishing houses are ‘dying’. Why would they be dying? Or maybe the better question would be: why would they no longer be necessary? Because as long as books are being published, I am pretty sure that we’ll need the publishing houses as well.

First thing I asked: “Why do you think so?” The answer I got was a bit vague; and I don’t remember the exact words, but it eBooks were mentioned, and the statement was made that physical books are old-fashioned. I tried very hard not to bristle at that last reason -and failed miserably.

Ever since eBooks were introduced, people have been claming that they will take the place of physical books. The thing is, I don’t think that’s realistic. How long ago did they introduce eBooks? They’ve been on the market for quite a few years now, but physical books are still being sold. Sure, people buy eBooks instead of physical books. Lets be honest, they are quite a bit cheaper. But, there will always be people that prefer having a physical copy. People like me; and I know for a fact that there’s a lot more book nerds out there that have shelves that overflow with pretty shiny books.

But most importantly, books supposedly being old-fashioned or simply the existence of eBooks -in my opinion- really isn’t a valid reason as to why publishing houses would cease to exist. The way I see it, even if eBooks took the place of physical copies, a book is a book. It will still need to go through the process that books go through before being published. That doesn’t change. The only thing that does change is that they’re no longer sold as physical copies, but instead as digital copies (Note that I really don’t think physical books will go extinct any time soon).

So yeah, this post may be completely irrelevant, but it’s something I’d been thinking about. I truly wonder if there are more people that belief it to be true that publishing houses are ‘dying’ and if there are: why?! I figured why not share it with you and ask you what your thoughts are on the matter.

Have you every been asked this question? What was, or would be, your response?


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  1. 17/09/2014 / 22:19

    I don’t think publishing will ever be a dying thing because even though people think that ebooks are going to completely take over the publishing world…Who do you think is publsihing those ebooks? Not every ebook is self published actually over half of them aren’t selfpublished. I also think that physicall books will keep getting produced because there are too many people (myself included) that like to collect. I own a lot of ebooks but I still own a lot of physical books too. I am an Apple user, so I have an iPad and I have to say that my iPad will never be able to replace the goodness of holding an actual book in my hands. There are a lot of great reasons to have ebooks. IT makes traveling a whole lot easier. I don’t have to pack a suitcase just for my books anymore.

    The way I look at all of this is that it is like a newspaper. We have access to the news by internet and television but people still subscribe to the newspaper and the newspaper is still printed to this day and how many years has it been since we’ve had television broadcast?

  2. 18/09/2014 / 01:51

    Great post! I think you’ve got a really interesting argument here, and I totally agree with you. I too have considered that I’d like to go into publishing, and have been met with the same question from a variety of people. I think it’s important to also consider the rise of self-publishing in any discussion of the purported demise of traditional publishing. I think self-publishing is great, but I don’t think that it is capable of rendering traditional publishing houses obsolete. It’s great to see people putting their work out there via ebooks, but there will always be something special about holding a physical copy in one’s hands.

  3. 18/09/2014 / 09:28

    My jaw would drop too. Omg, how could people think that?!! Do they realise publishing houses don’t just publish fiction too, right?! People always will want physical copies of books and colouring books and kids board books and cookbooks and diaries and…SO MANY THINGS. *breaths deeply* I do not think physical books will ever go out.
    Although I know someone who said “no one uses the library anymore” and I nearly fell on my face. My library is always busy. Especially with parents with young children, which is fabulous. People need books!

  4. Fleur
    18/09/2014 / 14:48

    Seriously, “e-Books” is the worst argument for the non-fact that publishing houses are dying. First, that’s a different discussion. The e-Book discussion is about which is “better”. Personally, I appreciate physical books as well as e-Books. However, I prefer physical editions because of the smell and the way they’re flourishing my apartment. Having an e-reader makes me read a lot more and since I just started university, I figured it is IDEAL for the texts I have to read for Literature Analysis.

    But like I said, that’s a different discussion. I don’t think publishing houses are dying. To make another referential to my study, Film and Literature studies: last year there were 43 freshmen, but this year we have 70 freshmen. That means we grew A LOT. And that also means that the interest in stories and storytelling is growing. Since in most books a story is told, and since publishing houses are necessary to bring those stories to readers, I think it is most unlikely publishing houses are dying.

  5. 19/09/2014 / 11:07

    You still need publishing houses to publish those e-books, so I don’t think they will ever go away. Besides that, I truly believe we’ll always have books. I don’t see a future without books; I think there are too many booklovers for that :)

  6. THIS IS RIDICULOUS! Gah…that puts you in such an awkward spot, doesn’t it?

    I’m with Mel. You still need publishing houses to edit and design and format the book – regardless if it’s an ebook or a print book; so publishing houses can never really go away as long as there’s books. ;) Thanks for sharing Iris, and WONDERFUL post! <3

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