karen_w_newton (karen_w_newton) wrote,

The future of publishing

Today's Washington Post had an interesting article on BEA and the publishing industry. The sources quoted had all been at BEA (BookExpo America), and they all agreed that publishing is changing; where they differed was how they felt about it. Some were enthusiastic, while others were nostalgic for the printed word.

The article's headline reads, “At Publishers' Convention, Is the Writing On the Wall?” and the upshot was that according to sources quoted, publishing had a long term future but bookstores didn't. If you're talking truly long term— twenty or thirty years out— I think that's probably accurate where Borders and Barnes and Noble are concerned. But I don't think print books will totally go out of fashion, certainly not some kinds of coffee table books. Certainly a superstore that needs a huge volume to support will have a hard time in a mostly paperless industry.

I wonder if that could somehow bring back the small, boutique bookstore? That would be nice. It would be shame if bookstores died out completely.

In other ebook news, Google has announced that it plans to provide a means for publishers to sell digital books directly to consumers without needing a Kindle. Publishers who are upset about Amazon's enforced much cheaper pricing can sell "digital copies" at a price they set themselves. The NYT article reporting on it doesn't mention anything about the format except to say the ebooks can be read with a browser. If the intended market is ebooks, I don't think it's much of a threat to Kindle and Sony.

News that in the long run may have more impact is that the company that makes e-ink is being bought by a Taiwan conglomerate. I wonder what Jeff Bezos thinks about that? Kindles need e-ink, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Update: The Taiwanese company is the one that manufactures Kindles for Amazon. Interesting!

Tags: e-books, ebooks, publishing

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