A great article to add to your weekend reading pile: An interview in Poets & Writers, in which Gabriel Cohen talks to John B. Thompson about this book (titled Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century) and his views of the publishing industry today.
The article touches on everything from technology to chain stores to the roles of the key players in the industry, but my favorite part was probably the one in which Thompson discusses the technological fallacy, or the assertion that technology—not people—is the driving source of change in the publishing industry. Here’s what Thompson had to say about it:
“What they miss is that publishing is a complex field of actors and players and agents who are human beings actively involved in content—and that readers are human beings who have their own tastes and preferences. Technology isn’t just an independent variable that drives through all that come hell or high water. It’s part of a complex social process.”
I also loved his thoughts on whether authors “publishing” their books online will somehow bring about the downfall of the jobs of publishers, agents, and editors:
“There’s a very big difference between “publishing” in the sense of making something publicly available, on the one hand, and publishing in the sense of getting readers to notice it, read it, buy it, discuss it, and so on. Any author can post anything online, but that doesn’t mean that anyone is going to pay attention to it. That’s where the role of publishers remains absolutely vital—they play a fundamental role in bringing content to the attention of others, of publicizing it, of marketing it.”
You can read the full article here. And feel free to share your thoughts. Anything about the article you loved? Anything you disagreed with? Anything in particular that scares you about the fate of the future of book publishing?
Happy reading, and have a great weekend.