Sunday, February 21, 2010

Publishing: The Revolutionary Future - The New York Review of Books

A timely reality check (via milouness)

Though Gutenberg's invention made possible our modern world with all its wonders and woes, no one, much less Gutenberg himself, could have foreseen that his press would have this effect. And no one today can foresee except in broad and sketchy outline the far greater impact that digitization will have on our own future. With the earth trembling beneath them, it is no wonder that publishers with one foot in the crumbling past and the other seeking solid ground in an uncertain future hesitate to seize the opportunity that digitization offers them to restore, expand, and promote their backlists to a decentralized, worldwide marketplace. New technologies, however, do not await permission. They are, to use Schumpeter's overused term, disruptive, as nonnegotiable as earthquakes.

Publishing: The Revolutionary Future - The New York Review of Books

1 comment:

Frederick Glaysher said...

Re: Jason Epstein. Publishing: The Revolutionary Future - The New York Review of Books

I fully agree with Epstein's overall perspective on the vast changes that are and will take place both in publishing and our culture. We can only speculate on many of them at this early stage.

I'm puzzled by Epstein's comment that "fiction is almost never collaborative." When was it ever? I can't think of a single book of fiction or poetry, of the first order, in any culture, that was "collaborative." What would it be? Maybe some of the old early epics, Gilgamesh, as he alludes to, very rare. Otherwise, a contradiction in terms...

Despite that caveat, I think it's fair to say Epstein has his finger of the pulse of the Post-Gutenberg revolution more than anyone else, though I think he's undervaluing ebooks, though it's understandable, since he's placed all his chips on the Espresso Book Machine.

I should state I'm slightly biased since have three books available through his Espresso Book Machine.

My own attempts to understand these transformations, as both a writer and publisher, can be found on my website, if interested:

Publishing in the Post-Gutenberg Age

Frederick Glaysher