Death of the Publisher?

The Washington Post has an article on how epublications, like Stephen King\'s new book, are going to effect publishers. Could the web bring an end to the role of publishing as we know it?

All of a sudden, the roles of publishers, printers, distributors and sellers of books are called into question.\"
Readers aren\'t the only ones who may be scared by this book. Such a move by a celebrity author could signal a significant shift in the way books are made, bought, sold and distributed.

Do they have reason to be frightened?

Writers have been posting their novels on the Internet for years now, but this is the first time an 800-pound gorilla like King has used the Internet as a direct line to readers. You will be able to buy the rather slight book with a credit card, for $2.50, in several different electronic forms.

If somebody the magnitude of King or John Grisham or Tom Clancy can successfully distribute such a book over the Internet, are publishers really necessary?

Simon & Schuster spokesman Adam Rothberg: \"Does any author want to spend a large chunk of the day organizing their business--who\'s doing their publicity, who\'s selling the rights? No, they want to be writers.\"

The giant publishing house is \"happy,\" Rothberg said, \"because this looks to us like something we can do more of in the future. It gives us an opportunity to offer works by our authors that don\'t fit into the traditional book-length model, things pegged to timely current events, for instance.\"

He added, \"We think electronic publishing is an elegant solution. A 65-page story is not within our capability to publish as a book.\"

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