Forbes tackled publishing and Amazon last week
And while I’m loathe to take serious a discussion that begin thusly:
Technology has disrupted every industry. Now, it’s book publishing’s turn.
Archaic beyond belief, it’s an industry that treats its most important asset–the author–badly. Can this go on?
It nevertheless has some decent points to make and is worth reading, even if many of the comments grate and overflow with bias.
Forbes are not alone
Indeed, The Bookseller ran a column by Laurence Obach this week that touched succinctly on the issue:
Returning to Amazon, it’s possible that their business model is flawed and can’t make money. I don’t believe that. Maybe taking a stand now will work wonders, but I’m a sceptic.
Amazon are beginning to unsettle me and if stories like this one are to be believed, The Kindle will be ipod like very shortly!
I don’t believe,
Over at Shimenawa Peter Brantley posts his thoughts on books, sharing and the future of books and the value of sharing:
Whatever digital (ebook) books look like in the future, if they do not embody the right to share, in an unrestricted and platform independent manner, they will be poorer things.
I completely agree and commented the same. Mike Shatzkin (who hasbeen mentioned here before) has weighed in however with some nicely put and well targeted remarks:
You DO realize that the ultimate result of an evolved wired world and this “first sale” doctrine you posit is that almost books will sell one copy? I don’t even have to explain that, you’ll see it in a second.
The funny think is I think this has truth in it. I agree completely with both statements. Sharing is essential but sharing will lead to fewer and fewer copies being sold. Can those few copies really carry all the value current print runs do?
I don’t know but one thing for sure, I feel less secure as a publisher now that I did last year and that can only become truer as time goes on. Still, forewarned is forearmed and reading the likes of this post and comments can only help.
Good meeting today,
Sara Lloyd over at the Digitalist (PanMacmillan’s digital team’s blog) has started a really exciting series on the future of publishers. There are some amazing thoughts even in the first one which quite expertly puts the case for all forward looking publishers:
We will need to think much less about products and much more about content; we will need to think of ‘the book’ as a core or base structure but perhaps one with more porous edges than it has had before. We will need to work out how to position the book at the centre of a network rather than how to distribute it to the end of a chain.
Hard to disagree with that I think. But what of this:
There are two areas of activity in the linear progression of a text between author and reader which have previously remained hidden to the reader: the development of the text itself; the writing and editing process, and the sales, marketing and distribution of the text. Readers have traditionally had no role in the former and only a limited role in the latter, through word of mouth recommendations or viral marketing. It is likely that today’s digital natives, who have become ‘prosumers’ (producer / consumers) with alarming speed and perhaps even more alarmingly different levels of proficiency, will expect a great deal more involvement in both of these areas of activity if they are to be engaged by texts. Witness two main stream examples, the Star Wars films and the Harry Potter books and films, both of which have developed massive prosumer (or ‘superfan’) followings, and both of which have seen conflict between the film companies and the fans that are creating content.
I can almost feel the blood rising amongst the more traditional amongst my peers!
Enjoying good writing and lucid too,
Perhaps I’m being wary for no reason. Perhaps they will just reissue the really obscure titles that don’t have a potentially wide readership. Perhaps they will point out to copyright holders that other publishing houses exist that may do a better job in certain circumstances.
As ever some of the best stuff is in the comments but the whole post is fascinating casting light on an area of publishing that is growing more competitive as technology allows smaller houses compete with larger ones. It is also the area that seems to be driving concern over orphan works.
Had a fun day, that included some beach walking,
PS This is post 501. I should really have done something to celebrate!