The Writers in the Silos, by Heidi Julavits

September 28, 2015

In 2008, Heidi Julavits published a marvelous short piece, The Writers in the Silos, a satirical glance at where writing and publishing is headed in “our current conglomerating, lowest­-common-denominator, demographically target­ed publishing industry.” I fell in love with it and bought the rights to reproduce the article on The Future of Publishing. As its buried somewhere at the back of my site, I like to pull it out on occasion for a new group of readers. Here you go:


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Is Publishing a Complex Industry?

March 15, 2015

I’m thinking about complex industries. I’m thinking of…

  • Pharmaceuticals (you might check out 23andMe, “a personalized DNA service”)
  • The design and launch of high-tech products (the intriguing Apple Watch)
  • Aerospace (think Airbus A350 XWB)
  • Launching a new car company (think Tesla)
  • Telecommunications (“rewiring” the Internet to reconfigure performance)


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The Top Book Publishing Trends and Opportunities

January 10, 2015

Digital Book World asked me to prepare a white paper examining the most important developing trends in book publishing. The white paper was published in December and is available for download (PDF). (more…)


How Amazon Destroyed the Publishing Ecosystem

March 12, 2014

Everyone takes a shot at Amazon, and it’s not difficult to see why. Founder/CEO Jeff Bezos is blamed for just about every corporate crime imaginable, from pricing that destroys competition to suffocating warehouse employees on hot summer days (apparently no longer a problem).

My criticism of Amazon is about an issue perhaps more subtle, but, in my view far more serious. Amazon has destroyed the publishing industry by destroying its well-honed ecosystem. Sure, all of the other issues and criticisms stay on the table. This issue is for me the heart of darkness of our beleaguered industry. (more…)

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Addicted to Change

October 23, 2013

Like most tech-dominated industries publishing is addicted to change. This addiction even has a scientific name: neophilia, in contrast with neophobia, a condition more traditionally associated with publishing (I chuckled when I read in the Wikipedia entry: “Neophobia is a common finding in aging animals…”). (more…)