Jeremy Greenfield, in his piece for Forbes rebutting my Guardian article “Ten Ways to Save the Publishing Industry,” suggests that I base my arguments on “flawed assumptions” and that I am “condescending” towards the book industry. I appreciate Greenfield entering the fray but I don’t think the arguments I advanced are significantly undermined by his critique. I’m taking advantage here of his generous offer of space to respond to the points he raised.

(Editor’s note: The following piece will make more sense after reading Robinson’s original post at the Guardian and then Greenfield’s response at Forbes.)

Let me be clear about one thing right at the start: The difficulties the publishing industry faces, which, in my opinion, are of epic proportions, do not derive from a lack of intelligence or talent among those running it. They are structural problems, and all the more intractable for that.

Greenfield contests whether any problem exists at all. Citing AAP figures, he points out that book sales in the first five months of 2012 rose 7% overall, and 15% in the trade. Five months is not much time on which to proclaim a business in the ascendant. Trade sales revenue, after all, rose only 4.5% in the three years preceding 2010, barely ahead of inflation , and overall book sales declined in 2011.

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