From Publishing Perspectives:
In Publishing’s Post-Pandemic Future
No longer will we print 200 copies of an academic monograph, ship 150 to warehouses around the world, then on to university libraries, and hope the remaining 50 will evaporate somehow over time. Should any library actually want a print copy for archival or other reasons it’s perfectly easy to produce one on a print-on-demand basis and that single copy will cost less in money and damage to the environment.
- As it happens, the same technology and attitude will pervade the thinking of general as well as academic publishers when maintaining the availability of backlist titles.
- This will of course lead to a complete revision and rethinking of reversion clauses.
Scientific publishers will abandon any semblance of print production including the age-old tradition of printed offprints of an author’s article.
- Print in the new world is akin to the old French tradition of delivering the mail by postmen on stilts—charming but ridiculous.
And how about the absurdity of sending printed copies to media for review?
- During the lockdown, newspaper mailrooms have been empty and it has been pointless to send printed books. It turns out that for the purposes of review and criticism, a PDF is perfectly adequate in all but heavily illustrated art, lifestyle, and children’s books.
- Of course the reviewer will find it hard to sell the PDF on eBay as a way of supplementing the paltry reviewer’s fee but perhaps it’s about time that reviewers were paid properly for their important function.
. . . .
Can anyone imagine any learning environment without a significant digital dimension? From the library to the lecture theater or classroom, the buzzword in educational publishing for schools and colleges has been “blended learning”–essentially a teacher, a book, and some digital supplements.
- This will be reversed and will become a digital course supplemented by a teacher and the very occasional printed textbook.
- It will still be blended learning but as in any blend everything depends on the proportions of the ingredients. In education, these proportions will never be the same again.
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With more people working from home, how can our industry justify typical midtown offices? How can senior executives justify large offices for themselves and battery-hen cubicles for lower-level staffers?
- Old-fashioned offices and structures will not survive to be replaced by more employee-friendly work spaces and work practices.
- Adieu, 9-to-5 work schedules. I’m very glad I haven’t invested heavily in big-city commercial property, and I’m pretty certain that most publishers will be looking to reduce their rent bills by taking less space and renegotiating leases.
. . . .
No more sales conferences in exotic places.
- No more teeming academic conferences.
- No more all-company rallies.
- No more flying around the world when a phone call would suffice.
- Leaving parties will be sadly frequent but less grand.
And finally, of course, the parties.
- No more book launches in lovely but pokey independent bookshops.
- No more cheap white wine.
- No more self-serving speeches by the publisher.
- No more shushing in order to hear the author’s speech or reading.
- No more air kisses and mwah mwah.
- No more trying to persuade staffers to mingle.
- No more sucking up to journalists in the hope of a one-line mention in a diary column.
- No more bundling up the unsold books to return to the warehouse.
- The post-COVID-19 launch parties will be digital. Many more people can and will attend. The wine and refreshments will be top-notch. The author can be heard and seen. The event can be recorded and shared universally.
Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives