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You Can Take the Man Out of Publishing, But . . .

He may have resigned from Soft Skull, but as evidenced in a recent post, at his personal blog—always a source of great erudition and entertainment—Richard Nash still has a lot to say about the business of publishing, the so-called “death of the book,” etc.:

People, the book will live on with the publishing business!!! That is not really what is changing, and to the extent that it might be, it will only be because the writers and the readers want it to.

The book isn’t in trouble, it’s that everyone who takes some of the money that a consumer pays for an author’s content need to re-justify their share and not assume that because they used to get that % they still in fact deserve that %. And I sense too many people hiding behind the notion that this has something to do with grandiose cultural notions about the life and death of the book rather than more quotidian concerns about the vision and competence of individuals populating this business.

On one extreme, booksellers, wholesalers, sales reps, publicists, editors, and agents could all fail to make a good case for a piece of the action; another extreme is that they all succeed in making that case. Unsurprisingly, I think it will likely be somewhere in the middle—some intermediaries are likely to be necessary, others not. I firmly believe that people with the talent to persuasively communicate the merits of cultural content are going to do immensely well in the future (and, depending on their inclinations, immense could mean lots money, or lots high-brow authority, or both, or something else immense entirely) and I suspect that people who are now publishers’ sales reps, and indie booksellers, and publicists, and so forth will number amongst those.

Who exactly, and structured in which way, that’s what remains to be seen. But the book is fine. Focus on connect writers and readers and you won’t have to ask for whom the bell is tolling.

Right on. The problems the industry is going through at the moment isn’t due to the product itself (the book), but with the model.



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