I am frequently asked what I think the future of publishing is. As a book publisher I am somewhat nervous about the answer I might give. I am do absolutely believe that publishing has a future. On the one hand I do agree that the physical object we call the book is taking a beating these days, people are chatting, talking about e-books everyone I go. I am asked by authors if I’ll make their book and e-book and I am slowly coming around to the answer, “yes.”
With that said, I don’t believe the future of publishing is about ebooks. At some point e-books may be “real” books, but the future of publishing is really about telling stories. The future of publishing is about perfecting a set of research and sharing information. I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes: “What truer than the truth? The story.” People want to learn and read and hear stories, thus, there is a future for publishing.
People will continue to prove their expert status through writing a book. People with drab jobs will still wish to write the great American novel. People will still retire and share their memoirs. When a person is interviewed on television, news, or the radio they will be introduced as the “author of…..” and we will continue to respect people who can start from nothing, and take you from page one of a book and guide you unquestioningly through pages of writing.
The challenge of the future of publishing is not whether there will be material to publish. It is not whether people will want to be published. The problems will be that so many people have written a book that we will be immune to books. (As with news, at first the novelty of the blogger was nice, in some ways, now we want to refocus our news with a trusted source whether that be CNN, ABC, etc….) We will need help knowing what is good and what is not. The problem may also be that although we “all” want to be authors, and although we all want to have others read our work that we will forgot a few vital details. We will forget that what we would want for ourselves we forget to do for others. Which is: as an author you will want others to read your book, to come to your author event, to read about you in the paper, to tell others to read your book. Thus, it is important that you do this for other people. I’ve mentioned this as one of the paradoxes of books in another article.
I believe the future of publishing is bright, but only if we do not ignore the role of the publisher as organizer, editor, as some who is able to screen for quality and subject matter. We absolutely must remember that we do not fail to do for others what we would hope they would do for us.