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Publishing in the age of the internet

I always have an eye out for articles that comment on the effects of the internet age on the world. I was pointed to this thoughtful video of Canadian author Margaret Atwood speaking at an O’Reilly conference on the future of books in the e-age. She gives a historical perspective on the publishing industry as well as some interesting examples of self publishing.

Atwood asks:

  • are books dying?
  • if all books go on the internet will all books be free?

But she really makes the point that the author as a “primary resource” must be sustained. Which is worrying, because apparently authors make less out of e-book sales than they do out of paper books. Atwood then highlights the United Artists response to the film industry (an artist collective) as a potential response for willing self-organising authors against a publishing industry that is seemingly doing less and less to support those it represents, while requiring more of them.

Watch the whole video if you are into the topic, otherwise my highlights are:

  • at 13 minutes great anecdotes on self publishing by Margaret Atwood
  • at 18 minutes a case study on making a book free (phone app, MP3s, free download) as a means to finally get noticed by publisher and have a paperback produced as a result
  • at 27:22 audience question on whether self publishing will result in a lower quality of literary output

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