Last week, Aaron Miller contributed a Medium essay, "How to change the future of publishing now, even though it's too late". He provides a good summary of the acquisitions Amazon has made (Shelfari, mobiPocket, Stanza, CreateSpace, Audible and most recently GoodReads) in the e-reading space, then asks, "Can’t anyone see what’s going on?"
With Travis Alber, Miller co-authored a chapter published in Book: A Futurist's Manifesto. For his post on Medium, he describe four ways that publishers can respond:
- Care about community
- Care about what happens to a book after it is sold
- Understand that the context of content and authors is as important as they are
- Understand that a seven-figure advance for BJ Novak’s book might be a good idea, but so might a $2M investment in a tech startup that helps them with #1, #2, and #3 above.
These are points a number of people have made before. However, coming from someone who has started and tried to manage publisher-facing businesses, Miller's advice resonates.
I think it will take an internal advocate – in Pablo Arrieta's words, a "bureau hacker" – to spur publishers to invest outside of what they do now. Defying the title of his post, Miller says it is not too late to change course. I hope he is right.