Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The next big thing?

Booktrade.info has provided a couple of links in recent days to a piece on bubblegeneration.com about the future of publishing. Beginning on Thursday last, Umair Haque has been considering whether publishing as we know it has a future. There have been a couple of comments, leading to a further piece by Omar on Friday.

This is all well worth a read, but personally I don't find the diagnosis -- the imminent death of publishing -- at all convincing. Reason: I am quite old enough to remember the invention of video recorders (which are now on the way out as a dead technology). When video recorders first began to appear you could find articles in quite reputable journals predicting the death of the cinema. Similarly, when cable and satellite came along, some otherwise sensible people were telling us that the big TV networks would be dead within five years.

Yes, there have been changes, of course, and there will continue to be. But publishing is not going to die just yet.

The bubblegeneration site also contains a lot of other interesting stuff, for instance on the new economics of music, and particularly on something called human licenses (to use the American spelling). I haven't had time to absorb it all as yet, but if you're at all concerned about copyright in general, and the licensing of rights in particular, it would be worth a look.