Regardless of which side of the “publishing is broken” divide literary types stand, and regardless of all the many posts, essays, news articles, contract negotiations and financial wrangling aimed by jostling parties (writers, publishers, readers, distributors etc.), we’re all on the same team at the end of the day. We love books, we love literary culture and we’re smart, kind and passionate enough to keep them around for a long long time.
Is the book the physical, printed text in its protective case, or is it the knowledge that the hidden text is always prepared to reveal? The answer, of course, is that the book is both. And because the book is and is not the form in which it is presented, it can do its work between boards of calf, or morocco, or Kivar, or from the booklike window of an iPad or a Nook.
“It’s become clear to us that the skills and the aptitudes of people in the publishing industry ought to translate pretty well into this model. Nobody’s going to have the same job title, nobody’s going to get their paycheck from the same source, so it’s going to feel like a huge disruption. But what those people do for a living is they recognize work that has a potential to reach an audience, they cultivate a relationship with a network of people who care about stories and literature, they manage projects, they help writers get the work out.
“Very little of what editors and agents do is really about physically putting ink on paper and shipping it around the world, it’s about intangible skills that are as valuable as ever.”
I think that’s the excitement of comic books. That’s why comic books live on strongly in this digital age, because there is that online portion of the discussion, where people are arguing and discussing books, and storylines, and the real world discussion that happens every Wednesday in comics stores and once a year at Comic-Con. The real world discussion is important and critical to the industry. I believe as the digital revolution takes hold across all media, comics will grow and not be cannibalized.
Ira Rubenstein, executive vice president of the global digital media group, Marvel
While publishing struggles to find its way in an increasingly wired and distracted culture, one thing book lovers are starting to realize is that we’re all in this together. We all adore reading, and the divisions between us — of taste, of writers’ rivalry for hot agents or publishers’ competition for valued awards — are secondary to the fact that we are a community of people who love books. There’s no need to fight.
"Reading should be an act of adventure and discovery. I’m trying to make more use of the library, but the lack of selection and availability of new releases has me looking for a more reliable alternative."
In the midst of the gloom-and-doom naysayers and pundits, there’s a thriving community of publishers, editors, marketers, agents, booksellers, librarians, authors, and readers of all kinds who are passionate about the book, in all its forms, and are working within the industry to help change it for the better.