I’m still working my way through Jeff VanderMeer’s Booklife, but I’m already starting to feel the percolation of ideas and the still-vague sense of ways opening into ways.
Basically, the Google settlement is going to (we think) make a huge number of existing books available online. The Espresso Book Machine, Lulu, and other print-on-demand technologies are bringing the production of physical books (aka “publishing”) into the hands of individual readers and booksellers. And folks like Doctorow, VanderMeer, John August, and others are breaking trail by using new technologies to publish in new formats. Doctorow sells over 25,000 copies of his books through Boing Boing every year. August offers his short story, “The Variant” for .99 as a PDF or Kindle file from his own site–and sells thousands of copies.
Long-tail publishing is where we’re headed, by the looks of it. Publishing companies need to take a stroll down to their neighborhood Blockbuster and see how that business model is doing…and then check out Netflix again. Folks want their media on-demand, conveniently packaged, and tailored to suit their tastes. And is that really so bad?