IPG acquires InScribe Digital. Barnes & Noble acquires Adaptive Studios and is experimenting with POD for self-published titles. Ingram's been on an acquisitions binge since last December. Hachette acquiredPerseus's publishing unit. And Mike Shatzkin has announced he is stepping down as program director of DBW.
Mike makes a good point - the dust raised up by the drastic disruption brought on by digitization is settling. Pain points seem to have minimized. These days, the big news is in consolidation, iterative experimentation, and (dare I say it) infrastructure improvements. The acquisitions I mentioned are not earth-shattering but incremental - the Big Scary Days are safely in the rear-view mirror for the time being.
For those of us who thrive on disturbance, this can be a difficult time - casting about for The Next Big Thing (especially in summer, when the buzz of the tree locusts lulls us into either napping or impatience) is quite frustrating when all seems well in hand. Forcing disruption where none is naturally occurring is, of course, not terribly honest. One can always argue that publishing is complacent, that the book trade is blinkered, that if traditional publishers don't focus on something other than the next bestseller then they'll be blindsided by Pokemon Go or something like it.
And that's true.
But publishing continues. For all the disruption caused by ebooks, print sales are still strong. Audiobook sales continue a spectacular hockey stick growth. Pikachu can exist side-by-side with adult coloring books and the Knopf frontlist.
So perhaps now is a time for contemplation. For digging ditches, and focusing on fortification. For refining processes and smoothing efficiencies. It's a luxury to be able to do so. I used to have a trainer who would hold me back from pushing myself during certain workouts. "It's okay if it's easy," he would say. "Enjoy it. Not everything has to be hard."