Writing, books and the future of reading - Part 2 of a long essay

(part one appears under category of the same name to the left of this post)

The Internet and other new technologies will have far deeper and broader effects than simply enabling the broad availability of books in online bookstores.

Disruptive technologies will change the way books are created, marketed and consumed.  Widespread availability of information will change the way we interact with information and each other.  Some of them include:

Digital Printing – on demand and short run create a new production and consumption system – which I call “publish global print local” and that can also be described as “any book any time.”  Furthermore, you (as writer or reader) are now able to create any book you might want to design for yourself from a menu of book components and at any time you want them:  i.e., the ability to “make your own book”

This enables a new concept of community based books – where there is interactivity between authors and readers, thus engendering changes in the definition of who has authorial voice and who is the consumer.  Then where does a publisher or editor fit in to this process - there is no doubt that the flood of unedited, unprocessed thoughts and ideas cries out for the editorial hand.  But in a new book economy, how and by whom this critical function is performed and perhaps more importantly, paid for, is yet to be determined.

Digital technology and electronic books – we are at the cusp of significant changes in technology that will alter the way books are conceived and distributed for millions of readers.  It is just a matter of time.  Until the Ipod and Itunes came into being as if delivered from on high (no, just Steve Jobs at work) no one had solved or could solve the riddle of digital music.  At some point in the very near future, some one (not likely to be a company we know today) will deliver the perfect device with an equally compelling distribution platform, and the world will be forever changed.  It does not matter how soon this will occur, although it will be sooner rather than later.  When it does, the traditional print book business will be in disarray, and the publishing landscape will never be the same.  Readers who want traditional books in traditional containers will always be able to get them (even so - we have printed so many books in the past twenty years that we could stop printing books tomorrow and no living reader would run out of great books to read between printed covers!).
Once the definitive and truly “e”-book does arrive, millions of us will want one, and millions of us will be happy to make the switch from reading books in traditional bound books made of expensive paper to reading in purely digital forms.  Or we may simply be driven to it by the new economics of a carbon neutral economy.  Our brave new electronic world awaits.

Posted by on 03/22 at 10:02 PM






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MJ Rose’s excellent blog


Where I podcast interviews with writers and thinkers about books, publishing and the future of culture.

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one of my favorite and most regular visits

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Publishing Insider
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Fresh Eyes Now
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Book Slut

The Long Tail
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Galley Cat
Blog about the bookbusiness

Conversations in the Book Trade
interesting site

Flaming Grasshopper
Chelsea Green Press’ ongoing blog

Publishing 2.0: the (r)Evolution of Media
A blog about the (r)evolution of media, driven by the migration of media to the Web and new digital technologies by Scott Karp.  Highly recommended.

An e-book business site, but their blog covers book business stories as well.

The Digitalist 

"The Digitalist was originally conceived as an internal sounding board, discussion forum and blog for the publisher Pan Macmillan to start thinking about a range of digital issues it faced. It still is. Only now it’s open for everyone to join the debate about books, publishing, the web, and the future."  Highly Recommended reading for anyone interested in the future of publishing.

Teleread "Bring the E-books Home"

David Rothman’s outstanding blog covering all things related to e-books, now with the assistance of Paul Biba.

Invention Arts

Really smart people thinking hard about books, publishing and the emerging social conversation.  Creators of Aerbook: an author platform service for the social web. Highly recommended.


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