From The Huffington Post:
The death of publishing has been greatly exaggerated.
Though traditional publishers are being threatened from all sides — the rise of ebooks, competition from other media, the growing shadow of Amazon — publishers have learned from the failures of the music industry, the futility of closing one’s eyes and trying to deny an evolving marketplace. They have conformed to many aspects of digitization, hurrying to convert to required formats and bowing to imposed pricing structures, hoping to not miss the last boat provided by the new marketplace.
However, accepting the future is not the same thing as embracing it, thriving in it. Many of publishers’ traditional functions — printing books, storing and shipping them around the country, maintaining a far-flung sales team — are becoming less relevant as content moves to digital. Self-publishing is an increasingly plausible option, with some remarkable success stories. While nervous companies typically fight to preserve and protect what’s left of their industry, the smart ones figure out how their skills might be applicable in the next. In this new world, how do publishers make themselves valuable and even necessary?
Salvation may lie in the same source as the challenge. Ebooks alone may not require a traditional publisher, but simple ebooks only scratch the surface of the potential of this new realm.
. . . .
Expecting books to be unaffected by these new reading devices would be like expecting cinema to consist of nothing more than filmed plays. True embrace of the emerging formats requires projects more ambitious than simply digitizing a traditional text.
So far, the growth of these evolving forms has been limited by practical obstacles. Unlike straightforward ebooks, transmedia projects can be very difficult for individual authors to undertake on their own. Platforms must be built from the ground up, new markets must be discovered, audiences educated — all for a single one-off project. These challenges would instantly shrink, however, if many projects were brought under a single umbrella — essentially, a new-media publisher.
. . . .
The real potential of digital storytelling will be uncovered only via iterative experimentation, not by eyeballing each plucky startup’s new publishing platform. Today, it’s those startups that attract the brightest technologists and creative thinkers, eager to own the production tools and distribution channels, and sound the death knell for old-world publishing. But “content” is often an afterthought for these companies — public-domain novels, crowdsourced texts, faddy non-fiction; most don’t have the ability to produce powerful, original writing or develop talented new authors.
Link to the rest at The Huffington Post and thanks to Randall for the tip.
PG has had a lot of dealings with publishers and worked for part of a giant international publishing conglomerate. He has had a lot of dealings with tech companies, including being employed as an executive by a few.
The words, “never the twain shall meet,” come into his mind.