to all content providers: it might be so easy …

… if you would only open your content to innovation:

instead an increasing number of (content providers) publishing houses go closed shop – what a pity – see you all at insolvency court proceedings …


publishing houses vs the internet

Publishing houses and the internet tend to have a very stressed relationship. One reason for this might be the very different approach to information books and internet sites offer.

While a book is historically a closed microcosmos exploring and explaining a single thesis or area of knowledge, the internet offers a plethora of information on nearly the sum total of human knowledge.


It is and was always possible to publish books without extensive internal knowledge of the books subject: A product- or program-manager will contact and contract an editor, the editor will find authors and coordinate the writing. As long as the editor has a „good name“ and the result is sound, the publishing house will be able to sell a book without knowing its precise content.

Imagine the result: a portfolio of monographies not connected to each other in any way. Nobody knows, if multiple books contain identical pieces of information, maybe the same law-texts, same or different commentaries, nor if those pieces of information are accurate or up to date. More appalling – nobody is able to cross-reference these texts, nor cross-sell these cross-references. You kind of get an archipelago of secluded islands of information in a backwater – or backlist – of the vast information ocean.


The internet started as such a secluded thousand-island backwater until the advent of search-engines. Search engines made the wealth of information contained in these secluded – sometimes obscure – sites accessible to anybody who cared to key in a search. Information was to be had at your fingertips on a keyboard, cross-referencing was immanent in the ranking of the results or explicit in hyperlinks included in the information itself.

Nobody pretends, that the blogosphere or some fanzines on electronic media cranked out by self appointed „specialists“ are nearly as accurate as a well written monography or an article in Nature run through multiple peer reviews. What remains is the easy accessability, hyperlinking and searchability of electronic bits, pieces and articles.


The internet was never intended to be not linked together. As an author in 1995 you might have omitted a related site in your linklist, this connecting is now done by search engines. So in the end you contribute your bit of information to a vast theme cluster made accessible in the worst case only by said search engines.

Book publishers have to do this on their own. Content – copyrighted, not publicly accessible – has to be read, understood, cross-referenced, cross-indexed and generally understood. The many black boxes outsourced to as many editors have to be opened, assessed and connected into one electronic piñata. Only knowing what you have got in your portfolio will enable you to find it for and sell it to your valued customers in the years to come.

Newsweek is dead

… and it did neither die of old age nor of web 2.0 – although web 2.0 is considered a highly contagious and epidemic virus. Did you already catch it? otoh you have to catch web 2.o today, because tomorrow everyone will have had it twice!

Not surprisingly its not the weekly paper, but the people running it who are considered to be to blame …
read more

Kevin Kelly on the future of publishing …

… on convergence respectively. If you read this article today you will ask yourself „Did the industry ever read this? Why is it always only geeks who read about the future of knowledge transfer and publishing?“

The geeks have not only read these articles, but also acted on them – enter the iPad; not yet pliable nor flexible, but you can read, watch TV and play games on it. The rest is user-interface design. If we teach the new media to behave not like an alienated typewriter, but a sophisticated variant of paper instead – including virtual glossae interlineares and virtual dogears – our attention might return from struggling with technology to understanding information.

Where are the new media concepts, let alone products from the olde world publishers? Nix, Nada! Did all these publishing houses since 2000 only prepare to ritually commit suicide, or are the exciting products still to come? Personally I very much favor the first theory!

Kevin Kelly:
„The page will not die. It is too handy and highly evolved. The same flat sheet of enhanced paper is so nimble, in fact, that there is no reason why a movie could not be played on it as well. Drama, music videos, great epics in full color all dance across this new page. The eternal sheaf becomes both book and TV screen. Indeed the resolution will be fine enough to read words floating in, around and through cinematic images. We see the beginnings of that already on some websites where image and text intermingle. Is this a movie or an essay? We don’t know.
In the end we will have TV that we read and books that we watch. The People of the Book will keep turning their pages, and the People of the Screen will keep clicking their screens. All on the same piece of paper. Long live the page!“
Will We Still Turn Pages, Time Magazine, June 19, 2000

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