endofworldFutureBook ran a piece today by Philip Jones intended as an antidote to all the gloom and doom about the future of the publishing industry that has been going around of late. It seems that a lot of journalists have been reporting on the book’s impending demise, when in fact the book is not dying but rather evolving.

One theory the piece brings up is that journalists are looking for an outlet for all the gloom they feel about the decline of the newspapers that employ them, but it also points out that the impending doom of the publishing industry has been forecast for at least the last 30 to 40 years. (It includes a link to a piece forecasting the death of the printed word due to computers written in 1968.) And it also points out that only an ill wind blows no good—professional writers and publishers might be in trouble, but on the other hand there are more publishing and marketing opportunities for more writers overall than ever before.

Jones writes:

It seems to me that everything we do now – from the app to the agency model – is somehow about preserving that image of what a book was and what it might become in the future without losing the essential qualities that made it a book in the first place (good writing, smart editing, strong presentation, determined advocacy). This is important, let’s stop talking about the death of the book, and start talking about the life of the book – it’s got an incredible future and I’d like to read about it.

He closes on that optimistic note with a call for papers for the FutureBook 2011 digital conference.

I would be inclined to agree with Jones’s optimism. The publishing world is in turmoil right now, but there’s no reason to think that people are suddenly going to want to stop reading altogether. Whether the big publishing houses topple or not, there will still be room in the future for books of some kind.


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