In the Department of Nothing New Under the Sun, Canada's Book Expo seems to raise the same kinds of worries that the American version offered up.
Yet there seems little joy in the book biz these days. People in the industry — writers, agents, publishers, distributors and booksellers — seem to worry as much as those in the music industry, conventional TV broadcasting, AM radio and all the other cultural ecosystems supposedly on the endangered list. When Roy MacSkimming published his well-regarded history of Canadian publishing in 2003, he called it The Perilous Trade.
Sure, book types say, more books are being published than ever before, and more people want to write them. But the books that are being published lack literary merit while their marketing and promotion are a poor man's echo of what General Mills does for a new cereal. The worriers point out that, per capita, fewer people are buying books, serious readers are a minority, authors don't have the cultural importance of Lindsay Lohan and George Clooney, and if their book isn't noticed by Oprah or the Giller Prize judges, fuggedaboutit.
There's even a cranky Updike quote to complete the experience.