concept to publication

Month: January 2008 Page 1 of 2

Tilt-shifting the Pioneer Monument

Let’s have a little fun tilt-shifting San Francisco‘s Pioneer Monument. I choose the Pioneer Monument for a couple of reasons: I look down on it out my window at work, and I find it offensive with its glorification of Frisco fat cat robber barons and its demeaning portrayal of Native Americans. Ready? We’ll want to keep the pigeonshit on main figure’s head in focus. Here goes. Wheee!

tilt-shifting san francisco's pioneer monument

Wasn’t that fun? Many people see this effect as creating the illusion of a miniaturized landscape. You can do it, or something very like it, with an extremely expensive camera called a “tilt-shift” (whence the name of the effect). Or you approximate the effect in five or ten minutes of Photoshop.

The technique is described, with a few variations, in many places around the web. You can check it out on your search engine. Or, you can just read on.

Hexagram 26

hexagram 26: large farming

The need for editorial direction

Web 2.0 experiments with open content are showing the value of moderated forums. Democracy is great, but chaos isn’t necessarily so hot.

Once upon a time tech types used to track stories on When a post got promoted to Digg’s front page it would bring your site a huge amount of traffic. The web economy is a numbers game — the more views you get the more likelihood of getting links, clicks on ads, subscriptions, and so on. Therefore, getting on the Digg front page was valuable. And when something is valuable, people will figure out ways to improve their chances of getting it.

What happened at Digg was that a clique of “power users” gained control of the system for their mutual benefit. The voted up each other’s stories, and voted down those of others. As a result, Digg became less useful to regular users. It no longer has the influence it once had. It is said that Digg blacklisted stories from some sites and manually killed others. Finally, last week, Digg announced fundamental changes to its algorithm.

Occasionally you will see stories in the upcoming section with 100+ Diggs – this is evidence of our promotion algorithm hard at work. One of the keys to getting a story promoted is diversity in Digging activity. When the algorithm gets the diversity it needs, it will promote a story from the Upcoming section to the home page. This way, the system knows a large variety of people will be into the story.

In other words, Digg is counting some votes as worth more than others (shades of Animal Farm). Similarly, Google once counted a link as a link in figuring page rank. Now they use a complicated formula for determining the value of links, and they further moderate page rank with several other factors. Finally, with Wikipedia we have seen problems caused by ineffectual refereeing of stories, which has led to the creation of Citizendium, a sort of refereed version of Wikipedia, which frequently has more reliable content.

And that’s why we need editors. Without some directing vision a publishing company is nothing but a random house.


RELATED: Digg Demonstrates The Failure Of Completely Open Collaborative Networks

Ousted L.A. Times editor blasts newspapers’ “psychology of surrender”

james o'sheaFor the second time in a little over a year, the Los Angeles Times has lost its editorial director over conflicts between the editorial side and the business side of the paper. Last fall a similar drama played out when Dean Baquet (now Washington, DC, bureau chief for the New York Times) was fired by the paper’s owner, the Tribune Company, for refusing to axe newsroom positions.

At that time, James E. O’Shea was brought in from the Chicago Tribune to take over editorial direction of the paper, on the assumption that he would be more sympathetic to management. Moreover, in December Chicago entrepreneur Samuel Zell took over the paper and criticized the previous management, saying that the paper’s viability depended on improvements on the revenue side rather than the cost side.

But on his departure, last Monday, O’Shea sent a memo to his staff in which he wrote the following. (BTW, articles in the New York Times and elsewhere have alluded to the memo or excerpted from it but have not run or linked to the full memo. I think that illustrates a fundamental problem with contemporary news journalism right there.)

I made these farewell remarks in the newsroom today and I wanted to share them with everyone in case they took off the holiday and were unable to attend. I wish all of you the best and thank you for all of the help you’ve given me over the last 14 months.

By now I am sure you have all heard I am leaving the Los Angeles Times after 14 months as editor of the paper. I will never forget the day that I walked into this newsroom, which was furious about the firing of my predecessor, Dean Baquet. As I entered the Globe Lobby, the security guard handed me a pass. It was good for one day. I remember thinking this was going to be one of the toughest days of my life. Actually, today is probably a little tougher. I am leaving here after making many great friends and before I got a chance to do everything that I wanted. But that’s life and I accept it.

I know there’s a lot of talk about why I am leaving so let me set the record straight. In discussions about the current and future budgets, it became clear that Publisher David Hiller and I didn’t share a common vision for the future of the Los Angeles Times. In fact, we were far apart. So David decided he wanted a new editor.

As I’ve said on numerous occasions over the past 14 months, I intended to stay here and lead this newspaper to the greatness it deserves. But David decided he wanted to terminate my employment and get another editor. I wish the new editor the best.

Although I didn’t really accomplish all of the goals that I set when I arrived, I know that this newsroom today is better off than when I walked into the door, and I am proud of all that we did together. We’ve accomplished a lot in just 14 months. When I came to this newsroom, I pledged to maintain the quality of the LA Times, and I did, even though I had to cut budgets and shrink the staff.

Despite those cutbacks, we successfully transformed this place into a true interactive newsroom with a web site that is far more successful than when I came. In fact, traffic on was up by a staggering 187 million page views over December 2006, an extraordinary achievement and one that should generate pride in our ranks. Our coverage of the fires that’s truly worthy of a Pulitzer Prize is just one example of why record numbers of print and online readers depend on this newsroom. During my tenure, we also turned around a Sunday magazine that was drowning in red ink when I arrived; it’s now rebounding and is in the black. With a modest investment in new resources, we created a new fashion section that generates millions in new print and online ad revenues and a successful new Calendar weekend section. The formula for success? A small investment in new resources more than pays for itself with added revenues.

We also created a new multi-media Guide section and web site; we redesigned Travel; we stopped the bleeding in circulation by being one of four papers in the country whose daily circulation was up in the last reporting period; and we broke news, the heartbeat of a newsroom, lots of it. The Sheriff Corona story; the diversion of U.S. anti-terrorism aid in Pakistan; I could go on and on. The quality of the paper under my time as editor didn’t decline. I am proud of that given the financial pressures we faced. And most important, there’s a talented stable management team in place that cares about the news that flows out to the public under the name of the Los Angeles Times.

This is an incredibly talented newsroom and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know many of you. I think Steve Lopez is the best daily newspaper columnist in the nation, one of a few that I would compare favorably to Mike Royko. And that’s saying a lot for someone from Chicago. There are lots of others who I could name but I don’t have the time. I didn’t get the time or opportunity to get to know some of you better and I regret that. One criticism I accept is that I spent too much time in my office and not enough time in the trenches, where I belong. So I apologize if I seemed a bit remote. As anyone who knows me well will tell you, that is not like me. I didn’t make enough time to do what I’m really good at: rolling up my sleeves and editing a story.

This is a tough time in the company and the industry. I understand that. I spent much of my career covering business and economics. I understand the realities of the bottom line. I am not some naïve, starry-eyed journalist who can’t accept economic reality. I know you have to cut back in hard times. I’ve done that more often than I care to mention. I also know this is a time of transition with change sweeping throughout the industry. But when you don’t agree with the future course of the newspaper it’s best to simply move on. There are plenty of other challenges out there for me and I don’t intend to sit around idle. There are bike rides to be had, books to write and hopefully another opportunity or two to make a difference. I am not a quitter.

One thing I want put on the record, though, is that I disagree completely with the way that this company allocates resources to its newsrooms, not just here but at Tribune newspapers all around the country. That system is at the core of my disagreements with David. I think the current system relies too heavily on voodoo economics and not enough on the creativity and resourcefulness of journalists. We journalists have our faults, but we also have a lot to offer. Too often we’ve been dismissed as budgetary adolescents who can’t be trusted to conserve our resources. That is wrong. Journalists and not accountants should seize responsibility for the financial health of our newspapers so journalists can make decisions about the size of our staffs and how much news remains in our papers and web sites.

The biggest challenge we face — journalists and dedicated newspaper folks alike – is to overcome this pervasive culture of defeat, the psychology of surrender that accepts decline as inevitable. This mindset plagues our business and threatens our newspapers and livelihoods. I believe that when Sam Zell understands how asinine the current budgetary system is, he will change it for the better, because he is a smart businessman and he understands the value of wise investment. A dollar’s worth of smart investment is worth far more than a barrel of budget cuts.

This company, indeed, this industry, must invest more in solid, relevant journalism. We must integrate the speed and agility of the Internet with the news judgment and editorial values of the newsroom, values that are more important than ever as the hunger for news continues to surge and gossip pollutes the information atmosphere. Even in hard times, wise investment — not retraction — is the long-term answer to the industry’s troubles. We must build on our core strength, which is good, accurate reporting, the backbone of solid journalism, the public service that helps people make the right decisions about their increasingly complex lives. We must tell people what they want to know and — even more important — what they might not want to know, about war, politics, economics, schools, corruption and the thoughts and deeds of those who lead us. We need to tell readers more about Barack Obama and less about Britney Spears. We must give a voice to those who can’t afford a megaphone. And we must become more than a marketing slogan. I know I can rely on this newsroom to do this.

Lastly I want to make it clear that I didn’t quit. Anyone in a top newsroom management job during tough times always wrestles with a crucial question: Where is the line? At what point do you go from “I can deal with this” to “this is simply wrong. ” When I was Managing Editor of the Chicago Tribune, I always thought my line was 600 newsroom employees. If the publisher demanded cuts that would take the newsroom below that level, I would leave because I felt staffing would slip to a level that would not allow me to sustain the quality newspaper that the community deserved. The Trib had 610 people in the newsroom when I left.

So when I got here, I wondered anew: Where’s my line: Would it be a newsroom of 800 people? 700? But then I realized the folly of that kind of thinking. I’d been around the accountants and their “metrics” too long. The line you draw is this: Do I believe in the course we’ve set for the future? If the answer is Yes, if I thought the LA Times could resolve its problems by getting smaller and smaller, by being gradually diminished, then I would stay. If not, (and I don’t) then I told myself to take a stand and say enough is enough. If you have to consider closing foreign bureaus and cutting back in other parts of the paper to free up the money needed to cover the Olympics and the most historic political campaign in modern times, well to me that’s no plan for the future, that is not serving the interest of readers. It is simply stupid.

Even though we face tough and demanding times and I sympathize with those who face daunting revenue challenges, I don’t believe that we will succeed long term by giving up; by taking steps that I think will gradually diminish newspapers. I decided to take my stand and say: Change the way we do things. I made that decision and I will live with the consequences. And when I walk through the Globe Lobby for the last time, I can guarantee you that I won’t regret taking that stand. I believe history will prove me right. When this industry stops relying so much on cuts and starts investing in Journalism, it will prosper because it will be serving the best interests of our readers. That’s when we will prosper. I wish you all the best and with that it’s time to say of my tenure here: Dash 30 Dash.

Dash 30 Dash is old-time newsroom lingo for “no more to say” or “end of story.” It derives from the days when stories were submitted in Morse code.


memo via Diggings
image via Frontline


Avante-garde frustration

breaking the rules: print of the european avant garde

The British Library is hosting what might very well be a great exhibition on Breaking the Rules: The Printed Face of the European Avant Garde 1900–1937. They are supporting the exhibition with a fairly extensive website. It includes a detailed chronology (as a pdf) and even a curator’s blog (although based on my long experience with curators, most should not be asked to blog).

But what the website doesn’t have is MUCH INFORMATION ABOUT THE ART. Where are the images? Where is an object list, or at least a list of highlights? There are such things for the library’s permanent collection, of course, and they do show six objects under the heading “curator’s choice.” But if there is much more than that I can’t find it.


To partially make up for the deficiency, here are a couple of videos, via Crap Detector.


Against violence in movies

Maybe it makes me a wuss, but I don’t care. I just have no interest in seeing violent films. Even though I host a blog about Mesoamerica and the Maya world, for example, I still haven’t seen Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto. In the New York Times, I read in a generally positive (!) review by A. O. Scott — that the new Rambo “is, for most of its fairly brief running time, a blood bath puctuated by occasional bouts of clumsy dialogue. There are beheadings, mutilations, disembowlings …” and I just lose any faint interest I might have had in seeing the movie.

Look, I live in Richmond, in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I work in the Tenderloin in the city. Those are a couple of the more violent places in the world where war hasn’t actually been declared. At present Richmond is the third most dangerous in California and the eleventh most dangerous nationally. As for the Tenderloin, according to Wikipedia,

Seven of the top ten violent crime plots (out of 665 in the entire city as measured by the San Francisco Police Department) are adjacent plots in the Tenderloin and Sixth and Market area…. The area has been the scene of escalating drug violence in 2007, including brazen daylight shootings, as local gangs from San Francisco, and others from around the Bay Area battle for turf.

Why would I want to go to the movies to see violence when it’s around me every day? I believe the last few years have been among the bloodiest in the history of the cinema. It’s getting so there’s nothing I can watch anymore.

Until some nice European sex comedy comes out, I guess I’ll just go read a book — for whatever reason, I don’t mind reading about violence as much as actually watching it (or the increasingly convincing semblance of it that movies are serving up).


Friday Roundup / Duly Quoted

Sorry I’ve fallen behind in answering e-mail and comments. I’ll try to catch up this weekend — according to the weather forecasts it will be a good one for staying inside. — tom

If Folly link with Elegance no man knows which is which ….
– William Butler Yeats

Duly Quoted

  • “A publishing house is defined by the vision of the publisher. . . . If a publisher becomes corporate, then the house assumes a new identity.” — Walter Mosley

Google gone wild

What would cause Google to label the San Francisco Ballet website as porn? Please see the post on this subject at FriscoVista.

Difficult photo subject

dusk on longoat key

I was struck by a subtle quality of light at dusk on Longboat Key. It’s the kind of effect that is very difficult to get in photos. It was very dark by then, and my Canon A620 isn’t as good at low-light situations as an SLR would be. I shot this at ISO 400, 1/30, 3.5. In Photoshop I lightened it a bit just by moving the center and right levels sliders — I didn’t want to use my regular technique for lightening dark photos, because I wanted to keep the sense of gathering darkness. I also increased the saturation just a little. I think the result is the sort of picture that some people might like while others will just shrug.

Book cover design: On Fishing

on fishing by brian clarke

On Fishing is a good example of a mostly typographic cover that is distinctive, noticeable, and instantly conveys a sense of the book. The graceful loops of the swashes express something of the freedom and exhilaration of a good fly cast, while the title is forceful and remains readable from a distance.

Perhaps the upright modernist font — which probably began as a form of Bodoni — with its perfectly vertical axis, suggests something of a fisherperson standing steady amid rushing water, as the loops of the castline swirl around.

From a typographer’s point of view, however, the design leaves something to be desired. The hooklike extensions of the s and k are clever, and well enough done, but the connections between the swashes and the letter forms are rather clumsy. The B in particular is quite ugly, and the angle of the swash off the O is at least questionable. The way in which the swash connects is inconsistent: it gets quite thick where it attaches to the B, but it seems not thick enough where it attaches to the O and C.

All in all, a clever design that will probably appeal to all but the most curmudgeonly typophile.


There is some discussion on this cover here.


Online bookseller links for this title:


Death of the Novel: A Literary Crossword

Click for larger version (pdf format). Commentary below.

death of the novel: literary crossword puzzle

A daughter got me doing crosswords over the holidays. One thing that struck me was that the persona of the puzzle maker emerges pretty clearly from the puzzle — and many come across as, well, unhip, for want of a better word.

With my usual arrogance I figured I could do better. And I soon got my comeupance, because I found constructing the puzzle difficult.

Most crosswords today follow rules originally established by Simon & Schuster:

  • No orphan letters (all letters must function in both down and across words)
  • No two-letter words
  • The puzzle must be diagonally symmetrical (A black square at top left must be echoed by a black square in the inverse position at bottom right, for example)
  • Not too many black squares (fewer than one sixth of total, says Sam Bellotto, Jr.)
  • Most puzzles are 15 x 15, although bigger puzzles are seen, especially in weekend papers

There are also aesthetic factors:

  • A pleasing puzzle pattern
  • Trend toward theme puzzles, meaning a handful of related words, both down and across
  • Not too many grotesqueries (obscure acronyms, names, archaisms, foreign words, etc.)

I did three versions of this puzzle before settling on this one. The first two were just too ugly. This one is better, although I wish I had managed to use more of my theme words. And I did have to resort to a couple of unappealing words.

I think the puzzle will be fairly easy for anyone with a passing familiarity with world literature. Maybe it would have been better with more oblique clues. Feedback welcomed.


Solution to the puzzle is here (pdf format).


A printer’s rant


via Pieces and Bits


Friday Roundup

If Folly link with Elegance no man knows which is which ….
– William Butler Yeats

Destination bookstores

19th century engraving of a book shopHas it come to this? Is it left to USAToday/Associated Press to be the guardian of our literary culture?

Beth J. Harpaz, AP Travel Editor, has selected nine bookstores that she considers “worth a tourist’s time” because each is “more than just a place to buy books.” The nine bookstores are:

  1. BOOKS & BOOKS: 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables
  2. CITY LIGHTS BOOKS: 261 Columbus Ave., San Francisco
  3. ELLIOTT BAY BOOK CO.: 101 S. Main St., Seattle
  4. POLITICS AND PROSE: 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington
  5. POWELL’S CITY OF BOOKS: 1005 W. Burnside, Portland
  6. PRAIRIE LIGHTS: 15 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City
  7. TATTERED COVER BOOK STORE: 1628 16th St., Denver
  8. THAT BOOKSTORE IN BLYTHEVILLE: 316 W. Main, Blytheville (Arkansas)
  9. THE STRAND: Corner of 12th Street and Broadway, near Union Square, Manhattan

What do you think of this list? I would add Moe’s in Berkeley to it, for one.

LINK: Nine destination bookstores worth putting on a tourist’s itinerary (USAToday). IMAGE modified from this source

Amazon-France tussle continues

As noted before, the Europeans are less sanguine about large internet companies than is the U.S. In France, Amazon wanted to offer free shipping to its customers. But France has a law intended to protect booksellers from predatory competition. The International Herald Tribune summarizes:

The 1981 Lang law was passed at a time when booksellers were losing sales to supermarkets and other new competitors. It was meant to assure that the French public had equal access to a wide variety of books, both high-brow and low-brow, not just heavily marked-down publications. The law has twice come before the European Court of Justice and both times it has been affirmed. The law is not considered anti competitive because all book retailers are held to the same standard…. In the Amazon case, a union of French bookstores won its lawsuit against the company last month over the free-shipping offer, which applies only to deliveries within France on book orders of more than €20.

The result of this is a $1500/day fine currently being levied against, and paid by, amazon. Who will win this game of chicken?


via Persona Non Grata


Elmore Leonard’s 10 rules of good fiction writing

The first rule of good writing is that there are no rules. If Elmore Leonard had written Ulysses, or Metamorphosis, or Remembrance of Things Past, or Death on the Installment Plan, or other of the modernist classics I don’t know if college freshmen would be studying them today.

They’d probably be pretty good reading though. Leonard knows how to stay out of his story’s way, and I think writers should at least be aware of his techniques before deciding on their own paths. In case you haven’t seen them before, here are his commandments:

1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”…he admonished gravely.
5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

Celine would have found no. 5 difficult. He would go for chapters with ellipses and exclamation points as his only punctuation. And where would Zola be without no. 8? And what about Perec or Robbe-Grillet and no. 9?

But that doesn’t make it bad advice, especially in today’s conservative marketplace.


LINK: The official Elmore Leonard website.


Trajan, the movie font

I don’t know why the Hollywood folks are so in love with Trajan, but it’s been a designer’s joke for years now — any Hollywood epic MUST use Trajan. I prepared a little talk on typefaces a while back for which I gathered together several movie posters that used Trajan. But this guy does me one better, in this amusing video on the subject.


Friday Roundup

If Folly link with Elegance no man knows which is which ….
– William Butler Yeats

A photoblog

I’ve replaced my html photography page with a simple, casual photoblog.

tom's photoblog

I’m not sure exactly why, since most of my photos that I put online go on Flickr. Still, I’ll probably post a photo here every week or two.

This site, BTW, started as an adjunct to the Mercury House site that first went up in December 1994. Back then my personal corner was sort of resumelike, and some vestiges of that still linger on. One of my goals for this year is to clean, prune, update, and organize a lot of the older material.

The photo page links from the html home page here:

links to photoblog from

Independent book publishing, part 3

jost amman card of booksI’ve been surveying the state of independent book publishing. We looked at the changeover from the old system that was characterized by a diverse group of robust independent houses to a system that tends to aggregate imprints under global corporate management. We saw that the international corporations have a wide range of holdings that go beyond just book publishing.

What are the implications of all that? For the today’s smaller independents it has several ramifications.

  • Conventional printing is more expensive for independents because the corporate publishers can gang jobs and order paper in bulk. In fact, at times a small publisher may have trouble even getting on a press at a company like R. R. Donnelley. (They also get less favorable terms.) With an increasing percentage of advertising moving online, printers have their own, equally serious problems, and their viability depends on having their presses running with as little downtime as possible. That means that the large clients are first at the table. Nothing surprising there, but it’s a reality that smaller presses have to live with.
  • Similarly, bookstores are dependent on the corporate publishers who produce most of the bestsellers. We can all name independent bookstores where we used to shop that have gone out of business. When it becomes difficult to meet your obligations, who do you pay first? The independent publisher who represents a small fraction of your business or the corporations that fill the greater part of your store? The result of this situation is that independent publishers are forced to write off more bad debt than large companies do.
  • Distribution is a problem for all publishers, big or small. In publishing’s beginnings, the distribution of printed materials did not present a huge problem, since books were a specialized product intended for a select, known audience. With the increasing democratization of publishing after the Renaissance, it became increasingly harder to match books with their readers. Today, with the multiplication of product and the fragmentation of markets, the task is incredibly difficult. This is especially a problem for independents because of the limited book distribution channels available to them. Getting too many books in the wrong places is as bad as not getting books in the places where their readers might find them. Book distribution is a large subject about which I will have more to say later.
  • It is in the area of promotion where the corporations really have a stranglehold on the market. We have seen that the same organizations that own most of book publishing also have extensive holdings in the very areas where, traditionally, publishers have announced and promoted their products: newspapers, magazines, radio, television. Even film now offers opportunities for cross-promotion, and there are many more nontraditional possibilities that we needn’t get into.
  • There has been a tendency to what I call the hollywoodization of publishing, which involves putting an ever greater percentage of total resources into a smaller number books at the top of the pyramid, to the disadvantage of others, including the so-called midlist books. This, from the corporate point of view, is a sensible conservation of resources. But the result is that the media discourse is saturated with discussion about a few top books. With fewer book reviews available, many feeling obliged to review the books with big promotion budgets — as Gail Pool, for one, has shown — it becomes exceedingly difficult for independents to create awareness of their titles. The problem is compounded by the shorter shelf life of books in bookstores, which makes it difficult for word of mouth to make up for inadequate promotion.

It’s time to draw this discussion to a close, at least for the moment. As some commenters have noted, my presentation has (necessarily, in my view) been a bit sketchy, but to do the subject justice would require writing at book length. I’ve learned a lot just from the comments on these posts, and I hope that I’ve at least provided some foundation for understanding the current situation in independent publishing. At some point later on I’ll come back to look at smaller pieces of the problem one at a time, which should enable a little more depth and detail.

Before closing, however, I should say a few words about how independents might adjust going forward. A few points:

  • The tendency of large publishers to concentrate on broad-market titles may present an opportunity for niche books with narrower markets. Some publishers have created viable operations by working in niches where it is easier to get books together with the appropriate readers. (I confess I still dream of old-fashioned generalist literary publishing.)
  • Technologies of book production have made it easier and cheaper to produce books than ever before. New and improving POD and short-run printing offers the possibility of keeping older titles in print, even with numbers that would not break even with conventional printing for many years. This is good news for public domain, academic, and classic titles, and a clever publisher might find ways of locating readers outside traditional bookstore channels — creativity in marketing and sales is ultimately where the solution lies for independents.
  • Self-publication becomes more feasible than in the past (but, even leaving aside the editorial aspect, self-publishers need to learn more about book design on the one hand and book marketing on the other than is evident today).
  • The internet is best viewed as a revolution in publishing. It inverts printing’s solution to the replication of documents. While printing creates many copies, each providing one view at a time, the internet enables one document to have multiple simultaneous (or successive) views. It brings the reader to the document rather than the other way around. Online publishing could subvert the old print systems in many respects.
  • But not every text is suitable for electronic publication. The printed book is a proven and perfected technology that will endure. It is tactile, sensual, portable, and more. But the economics of print publishing are volatile. Some books might become inexpensive, disposable products, while others might revert to their origins as exclusive items for a privileged class.

Or maybe they already have.

There is so much more to say, but I hear the curtain coming down. I look forward to returning to aspects of this discussion later on, and especially I would very much like to hear more from the perspectives of others.


Related: Glossary of Book Publishing


More posts in this series: part one | part two


Page 1 of 2

Some rights reserved 2021 Right Reading. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons (attribution, noncommercial, no derivs: 3.0) License (US), although some of the work this blog incorporates may be separately licensed. Text and images by Thomas Christensen unless otherwise noted. For print permissions or other inquiries please request via