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Op-Ed: Internet good for books, says Penguin

By Paul Wallis     Oct 23, 2007 in Entertainment
Couldn’t resist this article. According to the flightless publishing bird, the net is a good marketing tool, and a way of contacting the new generation. I suppose it is better than reading the tea leaves or using a GPS tracer to find them.
Originally it was prophesized that the net would deluge the market with used books, and that digital readers would replace books.
Thanks to the mindlessly slow witted marketing of digital readers, that hasn’t happened, and we’re still merrily deforesting the planet.
Modern digital readers are actually a lot easier to live with, and as an e-book author I can tell you that you can do a lot more with them, now, than you could when they first came out. It's just that nobody's bothered to tell anyone.
I’m hoping to do a sort of e-Book Of Kells, with new fonts, etc, sometime…sigh…
The idea of marketing appears to have become quite popular, very encouraging in a book publisher:
“The used book market doesn't seem to have made the inroads into the new book market we initially feared," he (CEO, Chairman and Head Penguin John Makinson) said.
Makinson cited the example of a US woman who bought a Penguin classics collection of 1375 titles for $US8,000 ($A9,000) after her house burnt down.
The woman was briefly retained by Penguin to help it research how people grow and manage their collections.”
This quote was included partly to emphasize the odd trains of thought in the publishing industry, partly as anecdote, and partly because the Sydney Morning Herald doesn’t seem to necessarily believe in associating sentences with stories. Free form journalism, or random scratchings at a Reuters article?
The lady is obviously a typical reader demographic sample. I can imagine anyone settling down with Homer after a house fire.
What it does indicate is that they’re researching how, and perhaps even why, people buy books.
How sweet.
The fact that the woman probably built a house with the books is neither here nor, presumably, there. Actually, as an architectural innovation, it’d be well worth it. If it sells books, some author will believe that it means people read them. So another delusion is spared some suffering.
The book publishing industry is an anachronism, as well as a bureaucracy of useless middlemen. They’re taking forever to catch up. I love the old paper books, but it’s not like I can’t see something of web quality storing hundreds or thousands of my favorite books.
E-books cost a few cents to publish. I can't get my books printed under $16- something.
For my own books, I could do full graphics, even music, not just what can fit into an online PDF subroutine.
Penguin is the Grand Old Bird of publishing.
They're not really talking about e-books, but they're adopting strange new ideas like "finding new talent" using the net, (gasp, shudder, twitch) and in the market, they're credibility incarnate.
If they do it, everyone else will follow.
The fact that they’ve finally cottoned on to the idea that the 20th century happened really is quite inspiring.
How many more decades will it take?
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