Saturday, March 15, 2008

New Chapter or Last Page? Publishing Books in a Digital Age: Gail Rebuck's Stationers' Company Annual Lecture

Digitization is changing the world of literature daily. Each day I add another bookmark to a growing file of articles on topics ranging from Japan’s love of cell phone novels (in the London Times & and the NY Times) to the removal of piracy protection on audiobooks (in the NY Times & Cory Doctorow’s take on Boing-Boing.) Authors & publishers are embracing change by posting free content online, such as Neil Gaiman’s story “A Study in Emerald” available as both eBook & audiobook (read by Gaiman) on HarperCollins’ website.
These changes have prompted many to ponder the future of the book. Random House UK’s C.E.O. Gail Rebuck presented a brilliant essay as the Stationers' Company Annual Lecture on the evening of March10th. The address, titled “New Chapter or Last Page? Publishing Books in a Digital Age,” was made to the members of a Guild formed in 1403 for the publishing industry, a fitting group to contemplate the message. Read the whole speech here. I believe this to be a must-read for all who value the literary past and who look to the future of publishing.

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