The Manifest Future of Publishing

January 18, 2016 by Thad McIlroy

It’s a great and timely idea: “Five-Minute Manifestos” for the future of the book business. Philip Jones, editor of the UK’s The Bookseller started the project as a lead-up to last December’s FutureBook Conference in London. But publication has continued since the conference. Jones first outlined the goals of the series in Those Magnificent ManifestosPorter Anderson is serving as the able co-pilot.

As of this writing there are over 30 manifestos, enough for a small handbook on optimal practices for the future of writing and publishing (there are over 16,000 words to date).

Topics range from writing (several, including “A manifesto for all writers” and “A manifesto for authors’ marketplace success“) to human resources (“A manifesto for skills” and “A manifesto on the publishing workforce“) to cookbooks (“A manifesto for cookbooks in a digital age”), the practice of publishing (“A manifesto for flexing the publishing model“) as well as several on publishing futures.

I’ve pulled the title list together and categorized it by topic.

Reading and Writing and Self-publishing

  1. A manifesto for author-publisher relations
  2. A manifesto for digital freedom in storytelling
  3. A manifesto for readers
  4. A manifesto for cookbooks in a digital age
  5. A manifesto for all writers
  6. A manifesto for authors’ marketplace success
  7. A manifesto: Ten commandments for authors
  8. A manifesto for self-publishing authors
  9. A manifesto for the digital writer
  10. A manifesto on working with authors

    The Practice of Publishing

  11. A manifesto for editors
  12. A manifesto for self-publishing companies
  13. A manifesto for the open book
  14. A manifesto on the publishing workforce
  15. A manifesto for skills
  16. A manifesto on metadata
  17. A manifesto for flexing the publishing model
  18. A manifesto for publishers: Rip up your schedules
  19. A manifesto for trade publishing
  20. A manifesto for an independent publisher
  21. A manifesto for reaching readers
  22. A manifesto for container-free content

    Publishing Futures

  23. A manifesto for “smart content” in publishing
  24. A manifesto for the future of the book
  25. A manifesto for new formats
  26. A manifesto for new business models
  27. A manifesto to reinvent the book marketplace
  28. A manifesto for a digital book platform
  29. A manifesto for serial publishing
  30. A manifesto for ebooks

    Design

  31. A manifesto on design in publishing
  32. A manifesto for digital book designers
  33. A manifesto for ebooks on art

I started to hyperlink the entries, then realized you can quickly search Google for each title. The full listing, from most-recent to oldest, starts here.

It’s intriguing to consider some additional topics that could be added to this list:

  • The retail ecosystem: Online vs. bricks & mortar
  • Where are children’s books headed?
  • Where are textbooks headed? (textbooks aren’t mentioned once)
  • Publishing and the supply chain (Ron Martinez considers this topic in his manifesto to reinvent the book marketplace)

And many more.

In my next blog entry I’m going to look under the hood of these thirty-three documents to see what kind of pattern emerges.

January 19: My timing, inadvertently, appears to be just about on the money. Today Porter Anderson announced a shift to a new type of manifesto. He’s calling it You’re the Boss.”

The challenge is this: “If you were the one running the show—the brass, the suit, top dog and big cheese—what orders would you be issuing to your forces for this year? How would you guide your leadership team?… tell us the plan. Write a memo to all staff. Issue your notes on the outfit’s new direction…”

Sounds like fun! Let’s play.

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