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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Merely Digital Authors May Not Have Clout To Establish Big Name In Writing

GAME-CHANGING technologies are upon us 
We all realize, of course, change is in the air RE publishing. Written content is being delivered by new tech media formats, content itself is morphing into a 3-dimensional entity containing videos, interactivity, real-time updates, graphics dripping with dynamic reality, new biz models are rapidly replacing older ones, etc., etc., etc. ...

But, big house publishers are fighting the tsunami change tooth and nail ... AND they still retain a big bargaining point:

"The technology and the devices are with someone else but the publishers have the content and the authors."

For how long though?

Here is an insightful view by Indian author, Binoo K John, in Tehelka, India's Independent Weekly News Magazine:

A new world of books is upon us

Indications are that the book in printed form is nearing an end. The wonders of a digital world and its commercial lure may be too much to resist

GAME-CHANGING technologies are upon us before we can adjust to their presence. We dread them and often we pretend that the game would not change. Closing our eyes to change is an old human habit. We have no answers so we remain smug. This is happening to the publishing industry worldwide. Technology has changed, the devices have changed, the economics has changed, the rules have changed and so has the scale.

So will the book, the printed and bound book, be a thing of the past?

Can the digital library, the Kindle store, the Apple Store, the many e-readers and tablets finish the book and the wooden bookshelf that decorated our studies and occupied our minds?

It’s possible. The only reason why the printed book might survive for a while is that publishers do not want the traditional model to vanish so fast. The brick and mortar world of publishing is too quaint and too good to be closed so fast and forever. Also, reader habits do not change that quickly. But the change is upon us. How do we cope? When Julian Barnes, while accepting the Booker Prize, sounded a clarion call to keep the bound book alive, he was pointing once again to the imminent danger: the printed book is no longer viable. That is why he wrote a short novel and was duly awarded. This year’s Booker Prize was a business award as well for it wanted to tell publishers the 1,000-page novel is over in printed form.

So, how will it pan out? School texts, either subsidised by the state or privately, would survive for many years. That is a huge number and form the majority of all books printed. The hardcover has almost disappeared. Fiction and nonfiction, including comics and graphic novels, would be printed in small numbers just to give it a physical feel. Actual sales would be in digital bookstores.

The pattern in India would be the same as in the West, because devices used for reading or downloading books are available here though not all books are. So, books would be bought digitally. Libraries in India too would have access to huge digital warehouses. The cost of digitally downloaded books would be lesser than printed books even if the payment is in dollars. Books are bought by the elite or educated classes in every society so they would have easy access to digital sources and have the money to pay as well.

PUBLISHERS WOULD still retain a big bargaining point. The technology and the ...

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