This fortnight on BookMachine, in honour of a bright, shiny New Year, an upbeat take on publishing’s future! As always, if you want to finish the article, carry it on over at the BookMachine website.
This will actually be my last regular BookMachine article for a while, as I turn to focus my energies on building up my freelance business. Stay up to date with any ad hoc articles on publishing I’m writing on my blog’s Publishing & Industry page.
Some weeks ago, I was explaining the returns system and how integral it had become to the industry to a friend.
“I get it,” he smiled, “publishing’s built on its broken bits.”
The comment was said without malice, but it gnawed at me. Is publishing really that ‘broken’? I don’t believe it for a minute, but is that naïve idealism, or do we have a real reason to hold out hope for the future?
Picking ourselves up
There can be no doubt that traditional publishing models have taken a hit over the past few years, with the advent of eBooks, online bookstores, and an influx of new entertainment options all competing for readers’ attention.
Despite all this, publishing isn’t an industry to lie down and take failure. It never has been: every publisher has signed a book that flopped, but they don’t admit defeat, they learn from the mistake, get back up and sign another title. In the same way, we’ve risen – and continue to rise – to the challenges set by the digital revolution. From launching TV channels and building apps to creating eReading platforms and producing merchandise, recent changes in publishing show that our industry can evolve just as well as any other.
Certainly, publishing still faces problems: even now, authors are calling for fair wages, online bookstores are outselling their bricks-and-mortar counterparts, and the returns system remains a notable quirk of no other industry on the planet.
But perhaps the biggest problem facing us is allowing ourselves to be intimidated by our new, digital competitors to the point where we forget our own value – and we do have value… [READ MORE]