This Is the End of Publishing


Very clever.

Now, what I’d really like to see is a total, anarchic proliferation of publishing. Who’s with me?

0 thoughts on “This Is the End of Publishing”

  1. I like printed books for kids books, because sometimes kids chew on books and that is gross!

    But I’m psyched to go full on digital, myself. I’ve got too much stuff on dead trees already.

  2. See, here’s the thing: I can order a used paperback from Amazon for $5, delivered, overhead included.

    Digital information propagates — it doesn’t decay like analog information does. But somehow, rather than encouraging libraries, loaning, and used book sales, digital publishers have enthusiastically decided to try to make digital publishing even more restrictive than physical books.

    When that shit gets sorted — as well as cheap-as-free readers, resolution around 600 dpi, and vivid, large color images — then there will be a digital publishing revolution. Right now, it’s mostly a way to make it so you can’t give a book to your friend when you’re done with it.

    But, all things considered, I have a publishing business that would have been impossible 15 years ago and only barely possible 10 years ago. I’d sure like to see that continue to become the most common form of publication.

    I mean, how many people ever wrote something that someone other than family and teachers ever saw, say, 20 years ago?

    And how many people now have blogs linked by networks of like-minded writers, print on demand books propagated by shared interests discovered on Internet fora, and Flickr accounts full of amazing stuff they make?

  3. ¶1) anecdata

    ¶2) That’s not true. The ePub format is a completely open, sharable format. You could pub in ePub today and be on Sony’s Readers and be ready on day one for iBooks on the iPad.

    ¶3) Cheap as free is almost here. 600dpi is not required, around 200-300 dpi is plenty good enough.

    ¶4) I expect it will still be possible but with the rise of rich media popular in more portable formats (mobile, tablet) printed material will begin to creak a bit. A hybrid approach (which you do, right?) is the best way to hedge your bets, in my opinion.

  4. You’re right, the ePub format will likely be a big deal. It reforms some awful problems from HTML in terms of formatting, though — all images must be inline, for instance, since there are no “pages”.

    300 dpi is good enough for antialiased text, yeah.

    “Cheap as free” is almost here, yes. But $500 overhead is still pretty expensive. When I see people leaving them behind at their café and not caring if someone else picks it up and walks off with it, I’ll know that it’s happened.

    Yeah, I publish in PDF and print. I love the many options of sizes, textures, and other aesthetic elements of books, but I love the extreme portability, low production cost, and searchability of PDF.

  5. I’ve been building up my collection of RPG PDFs, even before the iPad was announced. I got a netbook a few weeks before the announcement, as something I could bring to the table, rather than tons of RPG books.

    Now I’ve got an iPad on preorder and I’m psyched about what I’m gonna be able to do with it. RPG PDFs, sure, but a whole lot else besides.

    I’m so used to having my entire music collection – over 10,000 tracks – in the palm of my hand that I don’t think it will be long until I won’t be happy until my entire library fits on my iPad. And video will be the thing after that. Frankly, it’s a little odd that music got sorted out before print, but so it goes.

  6. Yeah, Matt, it has some real promise. I think much of the handwringing is on the part of organizations like Penguin Books (this video is a presentation of theirs), who are concerned that their relevance as publishing houses is diminishing.

    I’m really looking forward to a system of review that circumvents their gatewatcher position. I mean, it’s kind of weird that people pay me for PDFs when they could conceivably get it for free, but it looks like free digital editions increase the number of copies sold. There are economic forces here that are, I think, unmodeled.

  7. What I think we need is to examine why we’re paying and what we think we’re paying for.

    I bought Shock: print + PDF for several reasons:
    1) to compensate you for your work.
    2) to validate you as a game designer.
    3) to incentivize you to keep designing games.
    4) to have a PDF copy for my eventual iPad game collection.
    5) to have a print copy to loan to friends or bring to the table as a spare copy *until we can easily trade or sell PDFs among our digital readers, without failing to compensate the original author*.

    Could I now distribute your PDF freely across teh intarwebs? Sure, but I like to think my *not* doing so says something as profound as my doing so would say something petty.

    I’ve been slowly getting back into comics, but it’s via trade paperbacks and collections rather than an issue subscription. If I could get a (cheap enough) subscription to the titles I wanted, delivered digitally to my iPad, or even if I had a limited number of monthly credits, to pick and choose what I wanted (ala, I would be do it in a heartbeat.

    The step beyond that, I think, is what you’re getting at – the explosion of creation that these new models may allow: everyone becomes a creator as the barrier for entry collapses.

    Of course, I really hope this means a rise in prominence for editors. I’m tired of seeing pretty looking swill for sale.

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