Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Publishing and Technology

In a Gally Cat interview with Schiavone. Jeff Rivera asks: "What do you think about all these technological changes happening? (Kindle, the iPad, ebooks) How have they changed the marketplace?

In the final analysis a book is a book. How that book is delivered and the preferences of consumers who buy them, dictates the direction of the industry. Technology marches on. Look at the film and music industries. Initially you had to go to a theater to watch a movie, then came television, then Beta and VHS, then DVD and Blue Ray. The presentation of films now gets to us in a variety of ways. This leaves the consumer with multiple choices. Ditto for music. From the recorded cylinder to flat vinyl records to tapes and CD's to iPods, etc., music is delivered in a variety of media. With all of this technology we can still enjoy going to a theater or a concert. Technology brings us virtually unlimited entertainment.

As a kid (many current readers weren't around then) I saw books change in shape and size. One could go to the five and dime store to buy a new book format then called "pocket books." And yes, they did fit into your pocket. Here was a previously published hard cover book now in a smaller paperback pocket version for just 25 cents! Today this format is known as the eponymous "mass market paperback" and retails at $7.99. Thanks to digital technology we now have choices in how we read content. No longer must a book be confined to ink and paper. Thanks to my SONY personal ebook reader, I can download dozens of books and take them with me on board public conveyances, the beach, etc. And as a literary agent I have eliminated tons of paper coming into my office, piling up and getting messed up and misplaced. For the past couple of years I now only accept electronic file email attachments - and publishers accept agency submissions via email. With the new ebook readers, one doesn't have to read from a computer screen. The reader fits comfortably in your hands like a traditional book. The growing demand for ebooks has enormous implications for the publishing industry. Just think: no ink, no paper, no warehousing, no shipping, no shelf space, and NO RETURNS! What a boon to publishers, authors, agents, and the book buying public. Technology continues to brighten our future. Indeed, the marketplace for publishing has changed and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.