August 30, 2006

Gaming The Book Publishing Business [7:29 am]

A weird business model — publishing blog content, which I would find useless, since the point of mine is the links — but a look at the experiments in extending digital distribution: Blurb.com Gets Book Smart

Some observers are counting down the minutes to publishing’s Napster moment. But others aren’t so sure.

“The role of a 21st-century publisher is making books available offline and on,” said Brian Murray, group president of HarperCollins, which announced nine months ago it would digitize its entire library and offer tools like browsing as well as audio and video to compete with Amazon and iTunes. HarperCollins is, far and away, the most digitally progressive traditional publisher.

HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman says self-publishing is little more than a vanity press. “A good book will get published,” she said. “Self-publishing is denying that fact. The filters of agent, editor and publisher are still essential.”

Pundit Jeff Jarvis, who has written extensively about the future of book publishing, disagrees. “Every author I know says the publishers don’t get the job done on marketing — they end up having to do their own. As for a middleman, you can sell enough books on Amazon now to make it worthwhile.”

“The face of publishing will change,” he said. “As for who wins, the big guy or the little guy — I have no idea.”

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