Jason Epstein on Publishing’s Future

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Jason Epstein started out as an editor and publisher in a now-vanished era — his first editorial job was at Random House in 1949 — and he was a co-founder of the New York Review itself and also the Library of America. He’s of an old school but he’s not a Luddite — in fact he was also a co-founder of the company that markets the Espresso Book Machine — and he maintains the sensible (if somewhat unexciting) view that e-books will be an inevitable part of the publishing landscape from now on, but paper books will remain important too.

A couple weeks ago, the New York Review of Books ran a lengthy, somewhat rambling piece about the future of publishing by Jason Epstein, which is nevertheless worthwhile spending time with.

In the essay he makes a few remarks about about each aspect of publishing that is changing today, but refreshingly, he refuses to speculate too far into the future, limiting his predictions to only the few steps ahead that can really be foreseen, and where he has concerns, he voices them without immediately proclaiming that this problem will lead directly to the end of civilization. It’s a worthwhile read for anybody interested in the future of publishing.


Jeremy Hatch is a writer, musician, and professional bookseller leading a cheerful, aimless life in San Francisco. He is the Junior Literary Editor of the Rumpus and has a blog which he updates once in a while. More from this author →