How have books changed in the last 10 years?

July of 2004 seems like yesterday to me. I was writing my first book reviews for this newspaper. Now I’m writing my 520th Book Nook column. That’s 10 years’ worth.

I’ll take this moment to reflect upon my world of books. There have been fascinating developments. Here are a few things that made an impression on me over the last 10 years:

The impact of technology

The rise of electronic books, eBooks have become significant. People are reading books on all sorts of platforms:

Kindles and Nooks and tablets and smartphones. Ten years ago these technologies didn’t exist. I’m not a user of those new platforms, but I’m pleased that they are available. They open up many more opportunities for people to read books.

Self-publishing. Today just about anybody can publish a book. Do you know what I love about that? Anybody can publish a book. Do you know what I hate about it? Anyone can publish a book. Thousands of people are self-publishing books that never would have gotten published otherwise, and some of them are quite good. But most self-published books are not that good. I swim through an ocean of this stuff in search of books that could have merit. It is a lonely and often fruitless endeavor.

Ten years ago Amazon was already a force in publishing, and today Amazon is the nine million pound gorilla in the room. Amazon sells the most books, which gives the online store enormous power. Amazon is a dominant force in eBooks with their Kindle eReaders.

A couple of years ago Amazon won a significant victory in a litigation involving eBooks. Publishers need Amazon. The publishing industry has been in turmoil since the financial crisis of 2008. Publishers are consolidating. The recent merger of Penguin and Random House, two of the largest US publishers, is one indication of the challenges that publishers are facing and the methods they are employing to survive.

With the collapse of the Borders bookstore chain and the difficulties that Barnes and Noble is facing the landscape for selling books is clearly in a state of flux. Amazon is now sitting in the catbird seat.

The Dayton Literary Peace Prize

Ten years ago Sharon Rab, founder and chairwoman of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation, asked me to get involved with her dream project, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

The group she organized wished to honor writers who promulgate peace.

They would present annual awards in two categories, fiction and nonfiction. I’m a marketing guy, so I wondered, How can we generate some buzz for these hitherto unknown awards? Then I hit upon it; we could create an additional award for lifetime achievement and that first prize should go to the eminent oral historian Studs Terkel. Studs was in his 90s then, the window of opportunity would be closing swiftly. I made these suggestions: Create this new award, and please give it to Studs. And so they did. The rest is history.

Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Friday at 1:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 11 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, go online to Contact him at

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Springfield Entertainment

AC/DC co-founder Malcolm Young dead at 64
AC/DC co-founder Malcolm Young dead at 64

Rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, the co-founder of the rock ’n’ roll group AC/DC, died Saturday, Rolling Stone reported and the band announced on its website. He was 64. Young had been suffering from dementia for the past three years, which forced his retirement from the band that he founded with his brother Angus Young in 1973...
Louisiana veteran entertains motorists with saxophone
Louisiana veteran entertains motorists with saxophone

A Vietnam War veteran has become a fixture for music lovers in his Louisiana town. Donald Givens plays saxophone for several hours daily in his gazebo at his Monroe residence. His yard is located near the corner of two overpasses and commuters can listen to his daily jam sessions, the News-Star reported. Strangers pull up to his home and ask Givens...
Stolen Van Halen guitar returned to Hard Rock Cafe in Texas
Stolen Van Halen guitar returned to Hard Rock Cafe in Texas

A guitar owned by rock ’n’ roll legend Eddie Van Halen worth more than $100,000 was recovered Friday, hours after it was stolen from a Hard Rock Cafe in San Antonio, Texas, KSAT reported. The guitar, nicknamed “Frankenstrat,” had been reported stolen around 1 a.m. Friday. It was returned later in the day, but it is unclear how...
In the mood for fine family fare? Head over to Collier’s
In the mood for fine family fare? Head over to Collier’s

If you’re in the mood for great family-style cooking in a welcoming spot, we’ve got just the place. Restaurant: Collier’s Family Restaurant Location: 2800 W. First St. (Ohio 41), Springfield Contact: Facebook (Collier’s Family Restaurant) Telephone: (937) 323-5000 Background/Overview...
THE BOOK NOOK: Bizarre circus kidnapping story available in paperback

“Truevine — Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: a True Story of the Jim Crow South” by Beth Macy (Back Bay Books, 421 pages, $17.99) During her time as a newspaper reporter in Roanoke, Va., the writer Beth Macy knew the best story in town but she never had much luck reporting on it. That story involved two brothers...
More Stories