Wednesday, 24 March 2010

tipping pointers

The Bookseller writes: The tipping point for digital reading is 18 months away and publishers should prepare by starting a parallel business to their print one, media futurist Gerd Leonhard said last week (19th March).

If they do not, then venture capital-backed start-ups "will eat your lunch. This is not going to be linear and gradual. Once people have the devices, it will flick the switch. I'm not saying that publishers will become redundant — the opposite is true! It creates more pressure, you'll need more people, but you may need fewer buildings or trucks."

I agree that the future belongs to newcomers entering this scene clear eyed and unencumbered. I'm not convinced that traditional publishers really get how things are changed by literature's arrival on the main stage of our culture. I think it's a thrilling time for literature and a frightening one for the booktrade. It's also so important that the web remains a place where anyone can put their work on the global bookshelf, and there are powerful commercial players eyeing up the iPad as an opportunity to make money. The issue of how anyone other than Apple makes money out of content is of great importance for all cultural producers, but the freedom we've all been given by the web to put our words in public must be vigorously defended.

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