A varied and sometimes erratic record of what I'm learning inside and outside of the classroom

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Editing/Publishing and the Digital Economy

Danny's comment on Professor Burton's post on Traditional vs. Digital Economies caught my eye; I want to pursue a career as an editor, and if in regards to books and literature, information was free, what would that mean for me? How is the publishing business being affected by the digital economy? I mean, I want to get into a career with a moderate amount of job security, ya know? So I did some research.

I suppose there are a couple perspectives on where, exactly, "free" should be: the book could be free to the consumer, and/or the services to publish said book could be free to the author. In either instance an editor would be out some cash.  However, based on Dr. Burton's lecture last Tuesday and Kevin Kelly's manifesto Beyond Free, I have reason to believe the publishing business can breathe a sigh of relief in some respects. Of the Eight Generatives described by Kelly in his manifesto, the publishing business employs/could employ five:
  1. Immediacy: "Hardcover books command a premium for their immediacy, disguised as a harder cover.
    First in line often commands an extra price for the same good."
  2. The free copy of a book can be custom edited by the
    publishers to reflect your own previous reading background.
  3. Authenticity: People want to know that the text they're reading was actually written by the person whose name is on it.
  4. Embodiment: "PDFs are fine, but sometimes it is delicious to have the same words printed on bright white cottony paper, bound in leather. Feels so good."
  5. Patronage: "Fans like to reward artists, musicians, authors and the like with the tokens of their appreciation, because it allows them to connect. But they will only pay if it is very easy to do, a reasonable amount, and they feel certain the money will directly benefit the creators."

I found an interesting post on a Publishing Perspectives blog talking about the Digital Economy Bill that passed in the UK in April of this year. The post is discussing the online censorship that could potentially occur as a result of this bill, which isn't a good thing, but on the other side, "People and companies that make a living on content and intellectual property have a very real need to protect their investments and creative assets." So what is to be done? Well, as Edna in Pixar's The Incredibles says, "I'm sure I don't know, daarling." It will be interesting to find out where this all goes.

1 comment:

  1. Ariel, I wonder if the idea of intellectual property will always exist. Back in the day, no one cared who came up with Beowulf--there was no concept that the writer was an owner. We have all sorts of issues with copyright anyway, like multiple creators and similar ideas (think of the Facebook lawsuits). I don't know what push-button online publishing will do to traditional publishing, but it will certainly have an effect!