Everyone agrees we are in a turbulent period of publishing, with tremendous experimentation, expense and uncertainty.
While self publishing and digital editions are changing the traditional way of doing things, there are great opportunities for small and large publishers—and even small businesses, who are creative about connecting authors with their readers.
Richard Nash, editor and founder of Cursor, a new platform for independent publishers, talked about this at a recent workshop in NY.
“Publishing was the first business to mass produce culture, thoughts, and ideas,” said Nash, who began self publishing with Aldus PageMaker and printing at Kinkos in the early 90s. Before accessible software like PageMaker, “publishing looked like Madmen, you know, white guys in suits,” he said. “It was the turmoil of the 60s, with new rights for women and minorities that opened the floodgates for self publishing and the changes that are still rippling through society today.”
Nash sees the future of publishing in “monetizing the relationships authors and publishers develop with their readers.” Oprah did this, he said, by starting her bookclub. “Oprah realized that her program was just one hour. She wanted her fans to think about her after the show, in their bedrooms, on their lunch hours,” Nash explained. Books were the bridge that continued the dialogue Oprah had with her audience throughout the time between shows.
Reading books is solitary, but talking about books is social.
Whether you buy a hard copy or digital edition, meeting with the author or having a group discussion will open up new worlds around the topics you enjoy . Some authors, like Anne Rice, are forging strong ties with their readers online, engaging in continuous conversations about current events, history, art and literature.
“We can create communities of interest around books—books bind people together,” Nash said.
Politics and Prose, Kramer Books, and Bus Boys & Poets are just a few local businesses that are going strong because they draw people together through the power of words, ideas, and published products. Of course, good food, drinks and music help seal the deal. I’d love to hear your ideas about the future of publishing.