I discussed the future of publishing with my Creative Writing students, and it turned into a wonderful conversation. We talked about the iPad, digital readers, print-on-demand options, and existing problems with the book market. My students were quite sentimental towards physical books. I indicated that reading a book is the only narrative experience where you have to hold it in order to experience it. (Maybe video games could be included?) This fact adds to the intimacy of reading. One students pointed out that you have to "take care of books." The delicate nature of paper requires us to care for them. An interesting observation.
I suggested that print-on-demand is a little like online dating. When online dating first came on the scene, it was viewed with skepticism, i.e. only for creepy people who can't get a date the "normal way." However, nowadays, online dating is accepted and maybe even preferable. Likewise, print-on-demand is seen as subordinate to "real publishing." I wager in a few years it will be more commonly accepted. Too many people cut into author's profit with traditional book publishing. Is it possible for an author to make more money selling 2,000 books that they self published than 20,000 books sold through a traditional publisher? The gatekeepers may come to understand that it's not their book -- it belongs to the author. If the Internet and e-readers can change the system of printing and distribution, power returns to the author. Editors might become freelancers, hired by the author?
None of these theories are all that groundbreaking, but it was exciting to hear my students wrestle with these issues. Any thoughts?