December 16, 2010

The future of publishing and the e-book

Since I have worked in academic publishing, and since I continue to do so as a freelancer, I have a lot of interest in the future of the book. As an avowed bibliophile, I have personally shuddered in horror at the thought of replacing a beautiful bound volume with a plastic tablet with e-ink (they're very cool by the way, and I may even consider getting one in the coming years). Or even worse, replacing a beautifully filled shelf (or even room) in the same way. But while e-books are certainly here to stay, and are indeed putting pressure on an already tight-margin enterprise, I hold out a lot of hope that the book's demise is not anywhere in the near future. And, a great quote I read on the IVP Addenda & Errata blog this afternoon put the current e-reader trend in great perspective. Dan Reid of IVP writes, "As IVP’s Andy Le Peau likes to say, “The e-book is the new mass-market paperback.” That, at least, is a snapshot of e-publishing in the fall of 2010." And I think it's both true and somewhat encouraging. The books I'd consider putting on an e-reader are quick-read fiction, like Dan Brown or John Grisham, books most readers buy in mass-market editions (which aren't very lucrative for publishers anyway except in large quantities). So the landscape of publishing is certainly changing, but some of the new developments may not be quite as dire as the may at first seem. Long live the book!

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