Borrowed from Kristin, a literary agent in Denver (pubrant.blogspot.com), who borrowed from science writer Michael Nielsen:
. . . Nielsen highlights the signs of impending disruption in the newspaper industry: “Five years ago, most newspaper editors would have laughed at the idea that blogs might one day offer serious competition. The minicomputer companies laughed at the early personal computers. New technologies often don’t look very good in their early stages, and that means a straight up comparison of new to old is little help in recognizing impending disruption. That’s a problem, though, because the best time to recognize disruption is in its early stages. The journalists and newspaper editors who’ve only recognized their problems in the last three to four years are sunk. They needed to recognize the impending disruption back before blogs looked like serious competitors, when evaluated in conventional terms."
The signs of disruption in the publishing industry are already there. The big question is whether we’ve recognized them in time. The big publishers today are like the Titanic. Huge. Cumbersome. Potentially perceived as unsinkable. And yet, huge tech companies such as Google, Amazon, and the upstart Scribd are changing the face of publishing. What will the big publishers be like in five years? 10 years? They see the ice berg but can they turn in time?
I find this particularly interesting in view of the reactions of people who see me reading on my Kindle. It relates to an earlier post I wrote about whether the medium matters. Change is not always bad. And in the case of publishing, we simply can't close the lid of Pandora's box and think all these things will go away. Blogs are here to stay (obviously); independent bookstores are becoming as rare as dodo birds; big publishers are seeing their sales nibbled away by smaller publishers willing to take risks; ebook sales are on the rise due to the sheer ease of purchase and use.
Kristin admits she doesn't know where it's all going, and I don't either. But denial won't help a bit.