Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The future of publishing

This is a very interesting interview with John Thompson, author of Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-first Century. The link is also here:

I find his last answer interesting - Thompson talks about books not going away because people are 'love the ideas that are expressed in books; they love the stories that are told through books and all of it'.

Yes, well, ideas and stories aren't peculiar to the artefact that is books: they can exist in the digital and ebook space just as readily. So, again, there's a confounding of 'book' with 'story' or 'content' and they're actually different things. Stories/content aren't going anywhere, but books may well be. Not now; not in five years' time. But once today's ten-year-olds have hit their peak culture-absorbing age, we'll be seeing a lot more digital and a lot less print.

My earlier posts on this topic:


Theresa said...

He does blend the notion of story and book, however, I do think he makes a sound argument about market differentiation & segmentation. Consumers will always be divided into camps: paper v electronic. Some will be swinging voters who will be swayed by price (rrp v discounting) accessability (eg which can they get first) etc. Preferences are largely ingrained like personality type and learning style- people can adapt but still have a default setting.

Youth growing up with technology will use ebooks more as their text books move to eformats, but that won't necessarily dictate free time reading modes. Penguin's selling cloth covered kids' classics - parents buy these for kids because they love the physical form - there is a sense of anticipation just like the sound of a chocolate wrapper makes you salivate. You could put me on a chocolate drip (which would be convenient), but I'm afraid I wouldn't enjoy it as much.

David Thornby said...

He hints at one particularly important point. If you buy an electronic copy of a book, what are you going to get the author to sign when you meet him or her at a festival? The whole practice of book signing as we know it could die out! Talk about your apocalypse.