There are a few hundred people currently writing, thinking, yapping, and occasionally (at best) in a position to do something about the future of the book industry. Most, though sadly not all, take the position that writing, and reading, will be just fine, and the fact that there’s more of both, every year, is a wonderful thing. Their focus instead is on the intermediaries—the publishers, wholesalers, bookstores, reviewers etc—who exist to connect the writers and readers, and whose business model is in a state of serious decline. That is, the focus is on what we’re going to do, and not on wringing our hands about the falling price of content, or the end of the gatekeeper.
It’s impossible to sum all this up, but I urge you to begin to follow along with the conversation. Herewith some links to folks I suggest should be checking out every so often though in keeping with the more flattened networked way in which all this is happening, you can use these links to find your own gurus.
Mike Shatzkin is one of the pre-eminent thinkers on the future of publishing, along with three other Michaels, Cader, Cairns, and Tamblyn. Cader’s thoughts cost you money, for the most part, but the rest are free. Less commercial, but culturally and technologically immensely savvy is the Institute for the Future of the Book. Then all the boys at O’Reilly Media’s blog Radar including the O’Reilly himself, along with Wikert, Savikas and Socum. And follow @donlinn ‘s tweets, please.
Where are the ladies, you ask? Most broadly: Kassia Kroszer, aka Booksquare, is seriously engaged. Otherwise the interesting women thinkers aren’t consultants as are most of the guys, but publishers and as a result aren’t engaging in as much long form blogging—best follow their Twitter feeds instead: @angelajames, @dmcnr, @liza, @sarahw, @jane_l, @ljndawson. One publishing woman who somehow manages to knock out larger-scale pieces along with all her other work is Sara Lloyd at Macmillan UK—her manifesto to be found on that blog is the most dynamic document produced by a corporate employee on this topic…ever. (She has a great mommy blog too, which, as the father of an 18 month old myself, I personally find excellent.)