Wednesday, October 31, 2007

In the Media: FT.com--veinglory

I liked some of the points made by John Kay in his article today: research that aids publicists but not the public. If I may quote (and I may)...

"...I heard a platform speaker announce that 40 per cent of books would be electronically published by 2020. A pesky academic asked exactly what this number meant and what evidence it was based on. The speaker assured the audience that the number had been obtained in a survey by eminent consultants of the opinions of the industry's thought leaders."

Can you see the little aliens landing and saying: "Take us to your thought leader."? Surely that can remain one thing we do for ourselves? I often hear optimistic estimates about epublishing taking over the industry, from ebook writers and epresses. From other sources, not so much.

"I imagine most of the thought leaders had no more idea than anyone else what the question implied, or what the answer was, and did not devote more than the briefest consideration to their response, so I am not surprised that the median answer was close to a half. If you want to know the future of publishing, you will learn more by peering into a crystal ball. It will at least give you time to think."

The time is easy to find. What is more important is the inclination. And not only to think about publishing in general but to think very sceptically of any claims made by any person. I like ebooks, I guess. But I like guinea pigs too, but that doesn't mean I am expecting them to take over and revolutionise the publishing industry any time soon.

"Newspapers, broadcasters and consultants will start to distinguish bogus surveys from substantive knowledge only when their audience demonstrates that it knows the difference."

...And scam artistic and clueless optimists will stop starting 'fantasy' epresses that don't sell books only when authors demonstrate they aren't interested in submitting to them? (Just as readers are already demonstrating they don't want to buy from them).

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