Supply and Demand

As the vast creative, manufacturing, marketing, and retailing apparatus that deals with the written word begins to accept the rising tide of electronic publishing, many interesting questions are being raised. The primary questions being: why do we make books, and how do we make money from the endeavor?

The basic question whether publishing is a smart business venture or merely a labor or love. The business model, in its few iterations, has never been a wildly profitable one. The major firms have been locked in a struggle to grab the scraps of success that are available; the culture just isn’t there to support anything else. Or is it?

As marketers and publicists begin to alter their thinking to incorporate the upstart cultural flashpoints provided by social media, a decision must be made: to instigate or react. From my perspective, I have seen the burdens of accelerated production totally overwhelm the foundational interest in creating and enriching culture. Publishing has become, in general, reactionary and uninspired. It is now trasitioning away from an Oprah-based economy into one that might have to listen to and engage with a readership that has been mostly silent.

In an illuminating speech posted on his website, former Soft Skull Press chief Richard Eoin Nash explains why the next generation of publishers must drop their addiction to the supply chain and turn their focus toward the creation of demand.

If books and publishers are to be relevant in the next decades, they must re-affirm their traditional status as cultural artifacts through which readers can connect and share. Luckily, with the rise of social media and independent internet communities, the apparatus is already there, and growing every day.

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