In from the Edge: The Progressive Evolution of Publishing in the Age of Digital Abundance
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The forces for change in the 600 hundred-year history of book publishing have never been more powerful and fundamental than in 2011. Barely 12 months ago, what publishers viewed as “innovation” was the creation of digitized versions of physical books to be ‘consumed’ on e-reading devices. As 2011 begins, that change is largely regarded as accepted business practice, and the edge of “innovation” is moving in more complex directions. Publishing finds itself in the midst of a ‘phase shift’ from the scarcity model of print to a complex, new world of digital abundance. The dimensions of change, moreover, its speed, and its extent are still unknown. While book publishing begins with the creative work of authors, digital technologies are turning the business models inside out. Among the forces for change acting on book publishing, this article examines several phenomena that are working their way in from the edge to the center of the industry, including complex interwoven considerations around container, context, and customer.