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View Full Version : Does anyone know what the publishing industry says about traditional publishing?



The Backward OX
10-30-2011, 06:36 AM
Does the publishing industry say there will always be traditional hard copy books?

Polenth
10-30-2011, 06:42 AM
Does the publishing industry say there will always be traditional hard copy books?

Right now, there are no plans to get rid of paper books. They sell well. But no one can say if there will always be paper books, as forever is a long time.

Medievalist
10-30-2011, 07:59 AM
Bluntly put, we'll have printed low-acid or acid free hardcover books for many titles for the next hundred years—because they're archivable, transferrable, and insurable.

We don't have a digital file structure that meets basic archive standards that approach those of a low-acid paper hardcover.

quicklime
10-31-2011, 09:12 PM
Bluntly put, we'll have printed low-acid or acid free hardcover books for many titles for the next hundred years—because they're archivable, transferrable, and insurable.

We don't have a digital file structure that meets basic archive standards that approach those of a low-acid paper hardcover.

I've said before, but I have some really nice bookshelves a lonely kindle sitting on the center shelf of just doesn't add to the look of.

and I have a hell of a time going to Barnes and Noble or Goodwill and browsing through the bins of e-book files....because there are none.

e-books are not a full substitute for hard copy, they are an alternative. some folks will never buy a kindle, some will want copies of their favorite books they can loan to friends, etc....

Torgo
10-31-2011, 11:11 PM
Does the publishing industry say there will always be traditional hard copy books?

For the foreseeable future, and I would bet on forever. The paper book is too good a technology to get rid of entirely.

The share of ebooks out of all books sold in the West will continue to increase for some time to come, certainly, but at this point it's still relatively small - 10%, say. (Woe to me, for I can't be arsed to look up the figures. If you can, please correct me.) I could see it rising to 25% over the next five years, but I don't think the amount of print will shrink by a corresponding amount; I just think the market will get bigger. I strongly believe that ebooks are not entirely substitutional.

I think that the share of ebooks will climb from there, but I honestly haven't a clue what the ceiling is, or even whether it'll go over 50%. I wonder if anyone's on that long-range bets site having a wager....

Chris P
10-31-2011, 11:18 PM
Bluntly put, we'll have printed low-acid or acid free hardcover books for many titles for the next hundred years—because they're archivable, transferrable, and insurable.

We don't have a digital file structure that meets basic archive standards that approach those of a low-acid paper hardcover.

Wow, I never thought of that.

But let's stimulate some discussion by comparing books to music. I still buy some CDs, but, except for Wal-Mart, I have to drive one hour to buy a CD at a store, and the store is Best Buy at that! I buy downloads. My stereo will be going to the pawn shop soon, as will all my CDs. My local Barnes and Noble recently reduced its inventory by about 1/3 to make room for university hoodies and cowbells. If not for the coffee shop and textbooks, I don't think it would have survived this long.

In what ways are books different enough from music that will "save" them? I have some ideas, but I'd like to see what the rest of you think.

Torgo
10-31-2011, 11:33 PM
Wow, I never thought of that.

But let's stimulate some discussion by comparing books to music. I still buy some CDs, but, except for Wal-Mart, I have to drive one hour to buy a CD at a store, and the store is Best Buy at that! I buy downloads. My stereo will be going to the pawn shop soon, as will all my CDs. My local Barnes and Noble recently reduced its inventory by about 1/3 to make room for university hoodies and cowbells. If not for the coffee shop and textbooks, I don't think it would have survived.

In what ways are books different enough from music that will "save" them? I have some ideas, but I'd like to see what the rest of you think.

1) they're low-tech, self-contained. You don't need a gramophone or a CD player or an iPod. You can read your book on the beach, or the bus, or while cast away on a desert island with no electricity.

2) Books have no DRM. Because of that, you get actual property rights, which are worth having. You can lend them, resell them, let them appreciate in value...

3) ...get them signed by the author, or inscribe them for a loved one; because they are rival goods, limited to the number you actually make, they're collector's items, and can be physically personalised. Or indeed gift-wrapped.

4) they're physically beautiful in a way that only LPs really managed with music - and unlike LPs, the unique advantages of 1), above, mean that they won't get superseded by more convenient formats. Not entirely, anyway.

Books are remarkable packages. The cover art, the tactile qualities of the format, the typography, the layout, and yes, even the smell - all of those can't really be replicated. You can get the cover art to show on your iPad, but you can't have all those spines around you on your shelves. You can have a nice light ergonomic ereader, but it's always the same one. You can control the text design to the extent that the software allows, but you can't lavish the kind of bespoke attention on it that a skilled typesetter can - that's a job of work. And until we can have a scratch-n-sniff Kindle, the book-sniffers will never be satisfied.

5) Books are trophies. After you've read a book, you cart it around with you for years, and only part of that is to maintain a library of things you might want to reread. A lot of it, I think, is about being able to maintain a memory of the book - a kind of physical referent to trigger it. I know that when I access my memory of a given book, it's the look and feel of it that pop up first - even the place on my shelves, as if my mental filing system has patterned itself after my physical one.

I think that people will want to own physical copies of the books they love most, because they then become part of your world more tangibly.

Medievalist
10-31-2011, 11:38 PM
In what ways are books different enough from music that will "save" them? I have some ideas, but I'd like to see what the rest of you think.

Well, one major difference is that audio recording technology dates only to roughly the late 1850s (the specific year depends on who you ask).

The codex book in script format is over 2000 years old. The Western European movable type/printed book is c. 1455. The printed book has 500 years of debugging, and technology improvement, with the book itself having over 2000 years of UI improvement.

These are stable technologies. We know how to make them reliably at a high quality level. It's a durable, portable technology. The printed book made with high quality paper (low acid or better) with reasonable care will last hundreds of years; with archival care, it will last thousands. It works the same way now as it did in 1455; we can still read and use books that are 500 years old.

The technology behind audio recording is at best in early adolescence; it isn't mature technology.

Moreover, the printed codex book is portable; it works the same way everywhere, for pretty much everyone.

It does not need external devices or power.

It is a talismanic object; it can be beautiful. People like things that are tactile, and attractive to the senses. While I'm not one to go into raptures about the scent of a book, they are beautiful objects. Even type is designed to be attractive as well as useful.

Chris P
10-31-2011, 11:42 PM
1) they're low-tech, self-contained. You don't need a gramophone or a CD player or an iPod. You can read your book on the beach, or the bus, or while cast away on a desert island with no electricity.


Ah, but this is the only one that was not true of music at one time. A signed album jacket or CD liner, used record stores, fancy music shelves with about 1000 pounds of vinyl and boxboard, picture records, even frames to mount and display your albums. All of these have been abandoned in the face of the advancing technology.

I think a big difference is that music is much more passive than reading. I have music going all through the day at work, in the car, and most of the time at home. It's a must when I'm writing.

Reading on the other hand cannot be done while doing other things. I might pick up a book between stirring the rice for dinner, but when my eyes are on the page, that is the only thing I am doing. I'm not completely clear on what that means for ebooks versus paper, but it's important and it has to be related somehow. I would hate so see paper books go away, but I'd adjust just how I adjusted to changes in how I get my music.

Torgo
10-31-2011, 11:58 PM
Ah, but this is the only one that was not true of music at one time.

It's a massive one, though. It's such a good piece of tech, one that relies upon nothing but the user's literacy. And indeed, as far as the other points go, books are in a league of their own. They're a great format: you pack hours of portable entertainment into a package that is really compact compared to bulky LPs, and one that is much more pleasing to look at than charmless CD cases. Either music format gives you, what, a bit over an hour? A paperback is small enough to slip into your back pocket, but big enough, and bespoke enough, that spine out they look lovely on your shelf.

I don't think music ever had a format that was quite as awesome, or as versatile, as the book, across the board. It's worth pointing the biggest difference out again, which is that you don't need a stereo - a huge win.

Medievalist
11-01-2011, 12:08 AM
Reading on the other hand cannot be done while doing other things. I might pick up a book between stirring the rice for dinner, but when my eyes are on the page, that is the only thing I am doing. I'm not completely clear on what that means for ebooks versus paper, but it's important and it has to be related somehow. I would hate so see paper books go away, but I'd adjust just how I adjusted to changes in how I get my music.

Au contrare!

"Silent reading," reading to oneself is a fairly recent activity, one that was not typical until the seventeenth century.

Books were read aloud. It was exceedingly common right through the nineteenth century to have one person read aloud while others went about their work.

Chris P
11-01-2011, 12:17 AM
Au contrare!

"Silent reading," reading to oneself is a fairly recent activity, one that was not typical until the seventeenth century.

Books were read aloud. It was exceedingly common right through the nineteenth century to have one person read aloud while others went about their work.

Fascinating! But I guess in an age of low literacy it would make sense.

Torgo
11-01-2011, 12:17 AM
Au contrare!

"Silent reading," reading to oneself is a fairly recent activity, one that was not typical until the seventeenth century.

Books were read aloud. It was exceedingly common right through the nineteenth century to have one person read aloud while others went about their work.

Interesting stuff from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambrose#Ambrose_and_reading):


Ambrose and reading

In this same passage of Augustine's Confessions is a curious anecdote in which bears on the history of reading:


When Ambrose read, his eyes scanned the page and his heart sought out the meaning, but his voice was silent and his tongue was still. Anyone could approach him freely and guests were not commonly announced, so that often, when we came to visit him, we found him reading like this in silence, for he never read aloud.

This is a celebrated passage in modern scholarly discussion. The practice of reading to oneself without vocalizing the text was less common in antiquity than it has since become. In a culture that set a high value on oratory and public performances of all kinds, in which the production of books was very labor-intensive, the majority of the population was illiterate, and where those with the leisure to enjoy literary works also had slaves to read for them, written texts were more likely to be seen as scripts for recitation than as vehicles of silent reflection. However, there is also evidence that silent reading did occur in antiquity and that it was not generally regarded as unusual.

Ooh, more interesting stuff (http://www.stanford.edu/class/history34q/readings/Manguel/Silent_Readers.html).