Last week, while I was away on holiday, a number of stories surfaced which are clearly of importance to the future of the book trade but which generated in me, I'm sorry to say, nothing more than a yawn.
One such was the Google Print row. (Google are hoping to digitise every book ever written in the entire history of the universe. Well, if they do, the search engine had better work a bit better than the one at the top of this page does at the moment; apologies if you are finding it as frustrating as I am, but it ain't my fault.) Anyway, a number of authors have taken objection to Google's plans and have launched a legal case against them.
Sorry, but I can't get excited about that. Google will win in the long run, and a good thing too in my opinion.
And the other major non-story is the proposed takeover of the UK retail book-chain Ottakar's by HMV, owners of another big high-street book firm, Waterstone's. (The result may possibly be known as Wottakar's?) The UK Publishers Association says that this will bring about the end of the world as we know it. If the merger goes ahead, all kinds of bad things will happen: chiefly that publishers will have to give booksellers a larger slice of the book-buyer's pound.
Here again, I'm afraid I can't raise so much as an eyebrow, though the Society of Authors is deeply worried about it. So is Tracy Chevalier.
Yes, it is certainly true that both these proposed developments will bring about significant change. But while Google seem to understand very well the massive difference which the internet has made, a difference which is earth-shaking in relation to the book world, the dear old Publishers Association, and the Society of Authors, just don't seem to have got it yet.
I dare say the Ottakar's deal will reduce competition in the old-fashioned trade and will have some 'damaging' effects. But the Times this morning reports that high-street business as a whole is struggling, while internet sales rose by 31% in August.
The truth is, there is a whole new world of opportunity out there. There are now ways for writers (and publishers, and booksellers) to reach readers which were not only impossible to achieve a few decades ago, but for most of us were even impossible to imagine. And yet it's all there -- available now -- at your fingertips, on the end of your keyboard. (Like this blog, for instance.) All you have to do is wake up to the opportunity and use it in new creative ways.