Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

01/10/2010

Publishing Predictions for Next Decade


Richard Eoin Nash, former publisher of Soft Skull Press, has written an intelligent editorial for Publishing Perspectives deflating currently-held and often-times mistaken beliefs regarding the future of publishing. This is a must-read:

The New Gatekeepers

The endless media hoo-haa about the death of the book and the death of reading will slowly fade away, going the way of the articles of the last century about TV destroying radio and film and books. The death of the e-book, much like the death of the CD and the coming demise of the mp3, will provoke relatively few histrionics. As connectivity becomes ever more pervasive through 4G, WiMax etc, all text will be in the cloud, and the need for files vanishes.

It becomes clear that roughly the same percentage of the population continues to read immersive text-only long form narrative, and that the proliferation of multimodal forms in art, entertainment and education are precisely that, the creation of something new, and not the destruction of books, or painting. Many writers will choose to write in multimodal forms, just as many novelists currently write screenplays, and a few write videogames.

However, articles on the death of culture will continue. Any time technology has increased the number of people who can create, disseminate, and consume knowledge, the existing gatekeepers have decried it as signaling the end of civilization. This phenomenon goes as far back as we can keep track of this impulse, to Socrates bemoaning the use of the book to avoid memorization, and continues throughout history, through Gutenberg and the loss of control over translations of the Bible, through the 19th century and the panic over fiction destroying the minds and morals of young women, through the moral panic of the 1950’s over comics and the pulp novel, to the present reactionary idiocies of Sven Birkerts and Mark Helprin.

Yet more fuel will be added to the conservative reaction as increasing access to education and lower technical and economic barriers to entry is going to lead to an explosion of creative production in the developing world, as billions more Africans, Indians and Asians enter the middle-class and start reading and writing narrative, just as Westerners did in the past century.

Too much to possibly happen in a decade? Remember: two and a half decades from now, the iPhone’s computing power will fit inside a blood cell.

Takeaway: While companies are destroyed, modes of creating culture are not. In 2020 there will be more writers, more readers, and yes, more match-makers bringing them together, than ever before.

And in 2020, I’ll predict there’ll be yet more writers, readers and matchmakers in 2030.

Read the entire article here: http://alturl.com/ddfb

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