“If any industry deserves to go under, it’s the publishing industry.”

March 26, 2009

“If any industry deserves to go under, it’s the publishing industry.” So writeth Andrew Sullivan in his popular blog, “The Daily Dish.”

I found the quote on another blog, a blog far more well-rounded than Mr. Sullivan’s, that of Nathan Bransford, a literary agent with the venerable Curtis Brown (my father’s literary agency many years ago).

While Mr. Bransford is generous in his praise of Mr. Sullivan’s talents (“I am constantly amazed by his ability to write so eloquently and instantaneously about the issues of the day. He’s a pioneer of the form, one of our brightest intellectuals, and someone I admire a great deal”), he does take him ever-so-gently to task on this outrageous statement.

And Bransford’s entry has drawn 61 responses!

You can let Andrew Sullivan know what you think of his observation by emailing andrew@theatlantic.com.

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Sometimes the Web Drives Me Mad

These days I’m living in West Vancouver, British Columbia. I’m house-sitting for some dear friends. I’m lucky because it’s so beautiful here.

(more…)

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Clay Shirkey on the Future of Newspapers

I was holding back on whether to blog the brilliant entry by Clay Shirky on the future of newspapers, well-titled, “Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable.”

Within 24 hours there were thousands of links to this tremendously provocative and well-written blog entry. Why add my voice?

Because I want to make sure that you see it, and digest what he writes for all it’s worth. Which is plenty.

Shirky makes the best argument I’ve yet read on where newspapers are heading.

You must read his whole entry, but here a couple of salient points:

* The problem newspapers face isn’t that they didn’t see the internet coming. They not only saw it miles off, they figured out early on that they needed a plan to deal with it, and during the early 90s they came up with not just one plan but several.

* Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.

Why I’m particularly drawn to this piece is that Shirky has read Elizabeth Eisenstein’s: “…magisterial treatment of Gutenberg’s invention, “The Printing Press as an Agent of Change,” opens with a recounting of her research into the early history of the printing press…”

Ms. Eisentein’s book is tough reading, particularly in the unabridged volume. But I do think it’s the best guide to fully understanding the changes taking place in this publishing era. After all, they’re not really as dramatic as what took place when the printing press was introduced in Europe in the 15th century.

I think that Shirky’s “essay” is surely one of the most interesting blog entries you’ll catch this season.

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Canada and the Future of Publishing

Having grown up in Canada a dual Canadian-U.S. citizen I’ve always marveled at the similarities and differences between the two countries. Often Canada seems to be playing catch-up to U.S. innovations. Other times it appears to be ahead of the U.S., at least in societal matters, if not necessarily economic or technological issues.

What intrigues and bemuses me today is this report from the Canadian Marketing magazine to the tune of:

More than three quarters of Canadians, 77%, read a printed or online version of a daily newspaper in a typical week, according to the latest readership data from Toronto’s Newspaper Audience Databank (NADbank). The total readership remains essentially unchanged from the 2007 study.

The 2008 readership study found that 13.7 million Canadians 18+ read a print edition of a daily paper each week, although online readership is gaining momentum…The Internet is not supplanting print editions however, with only 4% of Canadians reading newspapers exclusively online.

Is Canada a truly different country than the U.S., or is it just waiting for the axe to fall?

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Another Example of a Great Web-based Newspaper Graphic

Under the title “Layoffs Pile Up,” the Wall Street Journal offers another great graphic, of the type I reported in my last blog entry. Come on folks. Keep up the effort. You’ve got great info and graphics that we can find nowhere else!

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