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Jason Epstein on the revolution in publishing

This article is making the rounds and getting a lot of discussion. It’s worth the read:

From ResourceShelf:

New York Review of Books
Volume 57, Number 4 · March 11, 2010
Publishing: The Revolutionary Future
By Jason Epstein

“The transition within the book publishing industry from physical inventory stored in a warehouse and trucked to retailers to digital files stored in cyberspace and delivered almost anywhere on earth as quickly and cheaply as e-mail is now underway and irreversible. This historic shift will radically transform worldwide book publishing, the cultures it affects and on which it depends. Meanwhile, for quite different reasons, the genteel book business that I joined more than a half-century ago is already on edge, suffering from a gambler’s unbreakable addiction to risky, seasonal best sellers, many of which don’t recoup their costs, and the simultaneous deterioration of backlist, the vital annuity on which book publishers had in better days relied for year-to-year stability through bad times and good. The crisis of confidence reflects these intersecting shocks, an overspecialized marketplace dominated by high-risk ephemera and a technological shift orders of magnitude greater than the momentous evolution from monkish scriptoria to movable type launched in Gutenberg’s German city of Mainz six centuries ago.”

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Jason Epstein Bio

“Jason Epstein launched the trade paperback format in the US in 1952 as a young editor at Doubleday. In 1963 he was a founder of The New York Review and in 1979 cofounder with the late Edmund Wilson of the Library of America. In 2007 he cofounded On Demand Books. Among his many awards are the National Book Award Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the National Book Critics Circle, and the Curtis Benjamin Award given by the American Association of Publishers for enriching the world of books. (March 2010)”

Stephen

Posted on: February 24, 2010, 1:53 pm Category: Uncategorized