Excellent idea! And one also fostered by +Jon Evans — an author (whose novels have been praised by The Times, The Economist and Washington Post), journalist, software engineer and TechCrunch weekly columnist — whom I recently discovered and, must say, admire. I admire his wit and intelligence — and especially for introducing me to +Richard Nash — another deeply accomplished, independent publishing entrepreneur, VP of Community and Content of Small Demons, founder of Cursor, and Publisher of Red Lemonade plus much more.
Jon’s outlook as excerpted: “For the last five years, in the face of this spreading transformation, the publishing industry has been caught in a tawdry and depressing spiral of denial and decay, constantly attempting to reject new media, new technologies, and new business models until they can fight back no more…That’s why Nash’s essay is such a breath of revolutionary air. The publishing industry will never be the same, but why can’t it be better? Why can’t a whole new model of publishing be created, rather than this false dichotomy between “published” and “self-published”?”
Richard’s outlook as excerpted: “You begin to realize that the business of literature is the business of making culture, not just the business of manufacturing bound books. This, in turn, means that the increased difficulty of selling bound books in a traditional manner (and the lower price point in selling digital books) is not going to be a significant challenge over the long run, except to free the business of literature from the limitations imposed when one is producing things rather than ideas and stories.
A business born out of the invention of mechanical reproduction transforms and transcends the very circumstances of its inception, and again has the potential to continue to transform and transcend itself—to disrupt industries like education, to drive the movie industry, to empower the gaming industry. Book culture is in far less peril than many choose to assume, for the notion of an imperiled book culture assumes that book culture is a beast far more refined, rarified, and fragile than it actually is. By defining books as against technology, we deny our true selves, we deny the power of the book. Let’s restore to publishing its true reputation—not as a hedge against the future, not as a bulwark against radical change, not as a citadel amidst the barbarians, but rather as the future at hand, as the radical agent of change, as the barbarian. The business of literature is blowing shit up.”
“The business of literature is blowing shit up.” — I like this thesis and it bears repeating.
I know the theme of my post tonight will make some of my past commenters happy 🙂
Let’s explore this issue more (and be introduced to numerous cool links as a byproduct) in this dissecting TechCrunch article by Jon Evans:
“The Business Of Literature Is Blowing Shit Up”
If you love books–heck, if you even like ‘em–run, don’t walk, and read this magnificent, magisterial essay by Richard Nash on their past, present and future. It’s long. Don’t be frightened. But even if the Internet has shredded your attention span, at least scroll down to its epic final paragraph. Go on. I’ll wait.
It’s been a rotten decade for book publishers, newspapers, and anyone else clinging to that 15th century technology called the printing press. Marc Andreessen has advised the mighty New York Times to “burn the boats” and shut down their presses. His partner Ben Horowitz claimed last year that “babies born today will probably never read anything in print.”
Meanwhile, Borders is dead, the tablet is killing the e-reader, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook has gone from investor darling to dead-weight albatross. The “Big Six” publishers may seem to be surviving nicely, but check out this graph: