Monday, March 01, 2010

Publishers, Authors, and Readers - Will They Be One?

E-Books. Yes, I typed it. For those who have read my various blogs and articles about e-books in the past, you're probably thinking: here he goes again. But I'm not. Well, I am, but only long enough to link to another important article in The New York Review of Books. If you're a fan of books, and have ever wondered why books vanish from the shelves so quickly, and never return, then this is an article for you.

Actually, if you're a reader, writer, or publisher, this article is for you. Or, if you're alive, the article is a pretty good match for you. The fact that you're already on the Internet means it's a good fit. All in all, I'm saying follow this link and give, "Publishing: The Revolutionary Future," by Jason Epstein.

2 comments:

jeffwedwards said...

I liked the author's point that, regardless of the storage method, literary creation will continue to demand "rare individual talent."

I was surprised at the "serious erosion of publishers' backlists." It seems reasonable that if a reader finds an author that (s)he likes, then the reader would seek out other works by the same author.

Also, there is a lower cost in exploiting existing content (music recorded decades ago, films already released, etc) rather than creating new works. I know that classical music labels, for instance, are well aware of this.

I believe that media companies are beginning to realize the value of their media libraries i.e. "backlists." Some industry veterans such as Michael Eisner posit that distribution method will never be as important as content.

Rick said...

Knowing that Google has worked so hard to abolish copyright laws, I feel so much better knowing that they will be steering the income paid to authors. No, wait, I shouldn't have said that because Google monitors critical content. What I mean is that I'm happy Google will be guiding the literary industry into the future. Really. I love Google. I don't use Bing. Don't erase me from digital existence or delete my blog. I'll use Google Voice instead of Skype. I'm leaving now to buy a Droid and throw away my current cell phone.

You see, one thing I wonder is whether Jason is giving too much credence to "rare individual talent," and too little to software generated entertainment. Software is so much more controllable, and you don't have to pay it a royalty. Writing is, after all, rather formulaic.


For a while, of course, people will be doing the writing, but I really doubt that state of affairs will continue during the next decade. Writers will become as extinct as chimney sweeps.

I still remember when top grandmasters in chess used to scoff at the idea that they could be beaten by chess software. Nowdays we take it for granted. So too, I fear, it will be with writing.


Leave the radically beautiful ideas and stories to artificial intelligence. They will take care of us, entertain us, and as in the movie you suggested I see a while back, live our lives for us and tell us how much they didn't or didn't like them as the automatic rocking chairs lull us to sleep on the porch of computer run homes.

All of which will give us more time to play video games.