March 18, 2010

Clever: The Future of Publishing

This video was prepared by the UK branch of Dorling Kindersley Books. Originally meant solely for a DK sales conference, the video was such a hit internally that it is now being shared externally. Enjoy it (and make sure you watch it up to at least the halfway point, there's a surprise!).

Posted by Vanderleun at March 18, 2010 12:59 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.


Paper publishing is dead. Right now we're just too in love with the corpse to fully let go.

Wish it weren't true, but it is.

Posted by: Cameron Wood at March 18, 2010 1:42 AM

Oh, your just a Palindrone.

Posted by: Brett_McS at March 18, 2010 3:01 AM

One way or another we read something, whether pixels on a screen, an e-book, or ink on paper. There will always be those for whom the words on paper with margins for notes will be necessary, and hyperlinks in an e-book won't do. As an archive, paper on ink is still the most durable and the most easily read. Publishing is already more than ink on paper, but that will never go away. The methods of creating it will just change, and already have.

To me the greatest irony is that computers were once thought to be the means by which we would become a paperless society. All they did was make it easier to create more ink on paper. Don't believe me? Just go buy a new car, and watch the forms flow out of the printer--in multiplicate.

Posted by: Bill at March 18, 2010 4:48 AM

What is missed, unsurprisingly, is that the comparison is odious. The two media have little in common with each other.

Books necessarily develop an argument through the use of language, with an irreplaceable component being the arena in which the mind of the reader is essential. Learning how to think cannot be separated from learning itself. The medium of the Web allows a writer a level of context unavailable through mere prose, and the opportunity to suggest levels within levels almost effortlessly. No amount of footnoting can equal the density of a link to someone else's argument - assuming, of course, that the viewer will take the time to read it.

The possible toxicity of the Web resides in the fact that it was introduced at a time when literacy itself had been under relentless attack for several generations, and that it has been advanced as further evidence that knowing how to read is unnecessary. There have always been stupid and self-centered people, but the level of idiocy that allowed The Precedent is something new under the sun. The deterioration of the language over the last 15 years has been jaw-dropping, and Web proofreading is virtually non-existent.

Learn to read, learn to think. "Whatever" is the implacable enemy of precision and maturity.

Posted by: Rob De Witt at March 18, 2010 8:50 AM

I've never lost a book due to a hardware failure.


Posted by: WWWebb at March 18, 2010 12:41 PM

Ditto re: hardware failure. But the reason paper-print is a Dead Man Walkin' is an economic one.

Old model: Let's print 5,000 copies and roll the dice. If we're very, very lucky we'll see a profit on that title, although probably not. Thank God for whichever "teen" vampire/Hogwarts/zombie author we have in our stable or we'd have gone belly-up years ago.

New model: Let's offer the book as a download that costs 50-70% less for the consumer than its in print version. If anyone really, really wants a hard copy we can do it POD. (Non-returnable, of course.) The authors will make a percentage of what's sold. If they want more money they can learn to write better books (we just won't tell them they can just as easily sell e-books without us a middle-man; thank goodness so many authors are too artsy and/or just plain effin' goofball-stupid to care about the business side of things). Fact is, most people do their reading on the Internet these days already, and, barring the un-invention of electricity and computer chips, this is not a trend that will diminish. In fact, at this point, it's not even a trend. It's The Way Things Are Done. It's our present. The future is probably Logan's Run or something. Dammit.

I love books. Just love 'em. But when I think of the absolute waste of paper the old model produces, and when I think about how many boxes of books I've had to lug around in my life . . . well, hello Nook (or your e-reader of choice).

Posted by: Cameron Wood at March 18, 2010 1:11 PM

I will give up dead tree books when they pry them from my cold, ink-stained fingers.

Posted by: WWWebb at March 18, 2010 1:40 PM

I buy all my books on the web, but I don't think I could read a book on the web.

Posted by: David C McKinnis at March 18, 2010 8:56 PM

I buy all my books on the web, but I don't think I could read a book on the web.
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You are probably somewhere between 35 and 65 years old - as am I.

Most people younger than that do most of their reading online, and are mystified by the emotions that cellulose pulp and carbon produce in their elders.

What none of the commenters touch on - and the video just hints at - is that electronic media allow entirely new ways to tell stories, rather than the imposed sequential order of a bound book.

Posted by: Ben-David at March 19, 2010 6:11 AM

Let's not forget that, as Gerard says, this is extremely clever, to the point of being brilliant. I, for one, much appreciate having had the opportunity to watch it.

Posted by: Stuart Schneiderman at March 21, 2010 8:25 AM