Jan 22, 2012

New Publishing Paradigm Unfolds as Foretold

In January 2012, the flagship in Canada's fleet of traditional publishers became a small cog in a foreign business empire. Random House, a subsidiary of the international publishing conglomerate Bertelsmann AG, bought out the remaining shares of McClelland & Stewart. (The purchase passed federal government scrutiny, proving that Canadian culture gets less protection than Canadian potash.)

Publishing is a business and the M&S purchase was part of a relentless aggregation of imprints by big media firms. Big media firms love to acquire control because control begats power—or so they think. If you are an independent author or publisher, you should cheer the demise of M&S. The publishing world is unfolding as it should.

The economic theories of Harold Innis state that, when media power concentrates in the hands of a few, somewhere in the hinterlands new competitors with new technology will appear to challenge the media oligarchy and eventually become the new heavyweight. Since Gutenberg's printing press made scribes obsolete, one new technology after another—printing press, telegraph, radio, television, Internet—has emerged to challenge its media predecessors.

Small publishers are already appearing who create books electronically or via print-on-demand. While many traditional publishers and agents don't even accept e-mail submissions from authors, the new e-book writers and publishers are building up ever-increasing market share in the book word by embracing e-publishing.

The best years are ahead.

For interesting viewpoints on the subject of the changing publishing world, check out:

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