Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Where the Web Is Taking Us: The Inevitable Future and the Publisher's Role In It

Mike Shatzkin has uploaded a transcript of a speech he gave to small and independent publishers at this years BookExpo conference. Here is the first paragraph (and you can find the rest of it here):
The basic premise under which we're operating here, I'll summarize for those of you have never heard or read my work before, is that horizontal, format-specific media entities are oh, so 20th century, and won't work very deep into the 21st. The reason for that is the web, which almost forces vertical organization. Horizontal presentations across subject matter -- like CBS, Random House, or The New York Times -- were the products of a capital-intensive, limited-distribution universe. CBS came out of an era when there were three national TV networks: they all tried to appeal to the broadest possible audience. Daily newspapers, to support their printing and distribution infrastructure, also had to appeal to just about everybody; the Times could get away without a comic strip page, but that was its only concession to verticality -- a more intellectual audience. And book publishers were relying primarily on promotional media -- newspapers, radio, and TV -- and distribution outlets -- bookstores -- that were also appealing to people across the board. It didn't matter what subjects Random House or Harper or Simon & Schuster published; what mattered is that each book have a large enough audience to be worth employing the powerful machine they controlled.

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