I wonder if Egyptian publishers got tired of "death of papyrus" doom and gloom headlines?
"Nile Valley Pubcos Miss Parchment Express"
Complaining gets old fast. I'm more interested in seeing how reading evolves in an age of perfect knowledge and no barriers to entry. What will a viable commercial publisher look like in ten years? What kind of energy, creativity and persistence will a publisher need to exhibit to lure authors? How does reading on mobile devices evolve?
The medium is the message. Hardcover books evolved from wooden boards that once protected medieval manuscripts. And, book size was governed by how many sheets you could economically fold and gather. While a creature of copyright, Louis Elsevier made it the Frankfurt Book Fair for the first time in 1595. How has Elsevier been able to survive the 500-year old book crisis?
Here are some random game and music industry or statistics. What do they say to you?
- 70% of Interscope's (a leading record label) revenue today is digital.
- Singles, not albums, predominate
- High fidelity is a thing of the past
- Cover design is dictated by the POV of a web browser, not a physical store patron
- Digital download of games now exceeds sale of physical copies
- Top 50 new songs generate one-third of all new song sales so far in 2010
- Only 2% of new SoundScan albums released in 09 sold at least 5k units.
- 832 Million Paid Users of Digital Music Worldwide. Number Expected to Almost Double by 2014
What does a publisher do when its position of personal influence is no longer tied to the physical distribution of books? What becomes of the copyright compact between author and publisher, when title to "copies" and literary production (as in printing) become less important in the production of literature?
For 500 years the chief difficulty lay in the distribution of books. What do we do now that the book crisis has passed? The routine work of distributing books to readers has been solved.