We all know that print is dead, and we all know that all the good wine writing anybody cares about is online. Or, perhaps not.
I picked up a tantalizing piece of information yesterday from Elliott Mackey of the Wine Appreciation Guild, the country's largest distributor (and sometimes publisher) of wine-related books, everything from technical tomes to travel guides. We were sitting together at a tasting, passing the time, and since I had the topic of wine and the recession on my mind after writing a major piece on that for the upcoming June issue of Wines & Vines, I thought I'd ask Elliott how the wine book business was going.
Well, it's booming.
The recession hits the wine industry in mixed ways. The volume of wine consumed is pretty much recession-proof, but not the prices, so there's a lot of pain at the high end. Restaurant wine sales are in the tank, but Internet wine sales are likely to go up. And so on. And it turns out wine books are one of the bright spots, up across the board in every category--which is especially good news for the Wine Appreciation Guild, since another major part of their business--fancy wine coolers for home storage--is down by half.
Mackey, who has been at this for 30 years, thinks the core market for current book sales is younger wine drinkers, those famous Millennials who are also drinking more than their share of wine, bless their hearts. It turns out these folks have a thirst for knowledge, too, and despite the stereotype of a generation with only a Twitter-sized attention span, they're willing to sit down for an extended read. Plus, in the current economic climate, there's an incentive to learn something beyond the marketing hype, and figure out where interesting flavors and good deals come from.
Once again, reports of the death of print turn out to have been greatly exaggerated.