In relation to the recent discussion about the either/or mentality regarding the future of the book (for an example read this account of the recent Digitise or Die event), I thought it worth noting some comments taken from a video about the Unbound: Advancing Book Publishing in a Digital World event held in January 2007.
Those interviewed do not see this period in publishing as that of a battle to the death of platforms (books versus digital) but as one of realigning attitudes and recognising new opportunities.
Seth Godin argues that the publishing industry needs to change its self-perception when he says “at the heart of this industry for 400 years has been the idea that somehow you guys are in the paper business”. An entrenched notion that the likes of Atwood and Co. still seem to cling to, especially in the bath.
That’s not to say that anyone is arguing for the demise of paper-based books. What needs to be recognised is that today the publishing industry is already about more than just books. As David Worlock says at the end of the video, “The future of the book is secure, it’s what we do with it, how we promote it, how we develop it and how we put new layers of meaning around it in a digital context which becomes extremely important.”
It’s about time we lay to rest the digital versus paper book standoff. If we look at what authors and publishers are actually doing with both books and digital networks it’s easy to see how both can co-exist.