Wednesday, April 06, 2011

What will publishing become?

I have been delighted by the digital revolution, because it has democratized publishing of art and writing in a big way. If you could write and you had access to a computer, you could publish world-wide. Fantastic.

But lo this article about a publisher who now has given up books entirely. He believes the future of publishing is not only digital, but interactive. That books will be taken over by apps which tell a story in multiple ways, with movement, games, etc.
Forrester analyst James McQuivey predicts that e-ink readers like the Kindle will become less important as more and more manufacturers bring out tablet computers, and that once that shift happens, books will have to become more interactive if they are to remain vital.

If that becomes reality, then we have lost something, for making such apps costs tens of thousands of dollars, and then creators are once again dependent on money-men, on middle-men.
I really hope it won't go so far, that there will keep being a perhaps niche, but still solid and lively, market for just text ebooks, just art, and other such things which can be created by just one person with talent and gung-ho spirit.

Of course this is only a problem for those who want to make money on their stuff. If you just want to get it out somehow, well those options are not likely to go away, so that's something. And if we're honest, it has never been a great percentage of writers who ever earned good money, even in the "Golden-Age-after-the-Web-but-before-everything-became-apps".

The big publishers I won't shed any tears for. Those who are just in it for money will always find something else to make money on, if they care.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you could write and you had access to a computer, you could publish world-wide. Fantastic.

Flooding the world with all the crap that used to be contained on fan fiction websites and creative writing workshops. Fantastic. To top it off, good luck making any money.

He believes the future of publishing is not only digital, but interactive. That books will be taken over by apps which tell a story in multiple ways, with movement, games, etc.

I have seen the future, and it has attention deficit disorder. --Leonard Cohen.

If that becomes reality, then we have lost something, for making such apps costs tens of thousands of dollars, and then creators are once again dependent on money-men, on middle-men.

Or it could be that making money at it will give them the time needed to develop those in the first place.

Of course this is only a problem for those who want to make money on their stuff.

For people who need to eat, and also need time to create the work they sell. We can't all run sleezy nudie websites.

Anna said...

"Of course this is only a problem for those who want to make money on their stuff."

> For people who need to eat, and also need time to create the work they sell. We can't all run sleezy nudie websites.

Well, I do think that domai is respectable, and those who don't like it should not look at it.

But there is a good point made here. I guess you wanted to say : those who want to get rich on their stuff. Because making some money is important if you have to keep working on a project for an important amount of time...

And you published an article about how actually publishers help the writers to give birth to their books. If that energy is lost, because all the writers work on their own, with no publisher no deadline, a lot of valuable work may be lost.

eolake said...

I think publishers will only go away to the degree that they did *not* contribute a valuable service. Those that do, well where there's a need there's a way.

Also, isn't it a pretty rare thing for a publisher to pay a writer enough to take a year or two off to write his book? After all they must put their money where they have a reasonable chance of making a profit.

Anonymous said...

It takes a lot of time and effort to write a novel or any non-fiction book. If writers couldn't make at least a decent living - enough that writing can be their only job - they won't be able to produce anything. Imagine having to work a regular 9 to 5 job, maybe have a commute so you don't get home till 6 or 7, having to squeeze in a couple hours writing after you're exhausted. Forget about it if you have a family. This is what will happen. All that will be out there is the kind of crap you find all over the internet for free.

You can talk about the need to create, and how an artist will find a way. Maybe they will, but I doubt they'd be quite as productive and maybe the quality wouldn't be there either. I've been working my way through Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey & Maturin series in the past few weeks. I can't see him having been able to produce a 20 or 21 book series plus biographies and translations if he had to go to a regular 9 to 5 job every day instead of writing being his full time occupation. Take away the ability to make money from it and that's what will happen.

Whether or not you believe Domai to be sleazy or not, the point is that running a website like that is not quite the same as a "real" job. It leaves plenty of free time. Obviously we can't all be doing that or there'd be no money there either.