28 February 2011

Why publishing must change...

Yep, I'm calling out the entire publishing industry.  I've been thinking about this for a while, but the HarperCollions debacle clarified some thoughts for me.  Just like the music and movie industry before it they continue to operate on 19th century practices.  And just like those two industries they keep burying their heads in the sand about changing their practices.

Sure they've jumped on the ebook wagon, but they don't really embrace it.  They make obscure restrictions, they use one format so it can't be used on all devices (and that format varies depending upon the publisher), they attach DRM to the files, and they want you to pay just as much for an ebook as they do for an actual print book...even though they have none of the printing costs behind it.  And that's supposed to be embracing?  Nope, sorry its not.

The publishing industry still has a chance to survive, but they've got to get past "this is the way we've always done it" philosophy.  It doesn't work anymore.  The average user doesn't really care about that.  And libraries and librarians are getting tired of poor decisions and poor restrictions on the part of vendors. (I mean seriously I can only Interlibrary Loan an article from a database if I print it off and then scan it and then I'm supposed to tell you who I sent it too?)  I get they want to make a profit, but there are better ways of doing it than continuing to do the same thing over and over again.

And yes I do believe librarians and libraries need to be willing to accept that we aren't going to be able to do everything that we want.  But this is something that we've got to work at together.  Perhaps a group can be formed (yes I know dangerous thing, but its a start) made up of representatives of publishers, authors, and librarians.  Something to get the dialogue started in person.  To form a framework for a future that we can all accept, even if its only partially.  Blog posts and tweets are only getting us so far and we need something more.  The time to act is now...the question is are we all willing?

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