Will publishers live on?
by Eoin Purcell
It really is bizarre. My discussions in Kilkenny centred on the role of a publishing company in the modern age. My friend believed that not long from now they will look completely different then they do now. Almost everything will be outsourced and the company will manage book projects (of a vastly fewer number) by assembling the necessary elements from free-lance and specialist firms. Book Publishers in his eyes would morph into lightweight brand based firms providing the finance to make books happen and perhaps the marketing know how to push the book to the top of the pile. He sees this as immensely positive as it will open the door for smaller nimble and more innovative firms to succeed.
On my arrival back in Dublin I settled in for a few hours of feed catch-up and found that the same theme has been floated (though with different outcomes) this weekend on the web too. Two new and fascinating posts crossed my path and are well worth investigating. The first to read is by The Publishing Contrarian and it came by way of and as part of more comment on Booksquare.
I don’t know that publishers are likely to lie down and take this type of result too calmly. After all they are large corporations with finances to back up large acquisitions and partnerships. The first situation described by my friend may indeed be plausible. It would remove much of the physical and capital costs of publishers and that would surely please some executives somewhere, but allowing themselves to be sidelined. I don’t see someone like Richard Charkin going “gentle into that good night.”
And as I have said before I cannot see the benefit to authors of exchanging one task master for another. You only need to read two previous postings by Robert X. Cringely to see some of the possible flaws to trusting Google.