You’ve Read the Headlines Now Read the Book

As the metabolism of the culture has sped up in the digital age, pockets of the publishing industry are prodding themselves out of their Paleolithic ways and joining the rush, with more books on current events coming out faster than ever before reports Motoko Rich in today's New York Times.

For generations the publishing industry has worked on a fairly standard schedule, taking nine months to a year after an author delivered a manuscript to put finished books in stores. Now, enabled in part by e-book technology and fueled by a convergence of spectacularly dramatic news events, publishers are hitting the fast-forward button.


I sure don’t see a gaping hole in the market waiting to be filled. I think that there are a bunch of weekly magazines out there that offer the kind of timely coverage that breaking events merit. Books - and the article includes Ann Godoff’s comment to this effect - offer a comprehensive and contextualized retrospective. Beside - I don’t see any evidence that speed to market is relevant to driving unit sales in books. Accelerating schedules of books means less time for the author to engage their fans and motivate them to become advocates. I’m no luddite - I think that digital platforms are powerful delivery mechanisms. But I think that we’re missing a big piece of the puzzle in this headlong rush to digitization and speed to market. A book is a physical manifestation of a deep metaphor - the container. The vessel of knowledge. They are powerful and permanent. They are the way people affiliate with the author and communicate to their friends about who they are. And that is why books (real ones you can hold) will remain part of our lives for a long time.

Mark Bloomfield