“Book Business Booms”

The despised book – that unsalable commodity which had to be forced upon reluctant schoolboys…has suddenly become popular…Americans [are buying] more books than ever before in history…To meet this voracious public appetite the book publishers put out more titles than ever before…

E-books? No, traditional publishing. In 1961, that is.

Ernest Havemann was writing on the boom in the May 12, 1961 issue of Life. Yes, the famous issue with Alan Shepard on the front. Don’t know who Shepard was? Ask for a refund from your school. Anyway, Havemann wrote about the “business that capitalism forgot” and how it was “changing fast” and only 1500 stores selling books couldn’t keep up with demand (compared to 300,000 selling razors). And this:

…the paperbound book was originally regarded as the final death blow to literary publishing. Instead it may prove to be the salvation. Sold everywhere that a rack could be put up…The way things are going this year…books may soon be as available as stereo records…if not razor blades.

Change “paperbound” to e-book and “stereo records” to Blu-ray and this would be 2015.

How things change and how they don’t.

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