The Future of Publishing

Yesterday, I stumbled across an incredibly simple but brilliant video about the end of publishing. It was produced by the marketing staff at Dorling Kindersley, a division of Penguin Group, for a recent sales conference. It talks about why Generation Y (those born between 1977 and 1994) thinks that books are dead and boring.

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

Or does it? You be the judge. Make sure you watch the video through to the end. It may surprise you.

Question: What do you think about the future of books?
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  • Luke Gedeon

    You know, I was rather disappointed to see knights in shining armor go the way of clay tablets thanks to those blasted muskets. And losing heraldry with it… that was the worst loss of all.

    But, heraldry never did go away. It just changed a bit. And now it is better than ever.

    Don't despair. Books will continue on forever as a forever huge part of our lives. Generation Y will mostly reject books, but the millennials will bring them back and publishers will live fat and happy forever.

    Oh, and that video…. totally did not connect. It was baby-boomer one direction and X the other. Totally missed the point.
    My recent post Cliches: Any Value Left in There?

  • Susan Cushman

    Brilliant. My friends, River Jordan and Shellie Tomlinson Rushing, are on a book tour of seven states right now, interviewing booksellers and bookclubs about the future of publishing. They are having an informal "parlor talk' at my house on March 31. I think they'll find we're hopeful about the publishing world:-)

  • Speckle

    Wow! this was enlightening!

  • Sara Rassler

    I'm a senior in high school and I don't think that books are dying. Most students can't afford a Kindle, or don't want it stolen. Most students realize that it's harder on their eyes to read from a screen instead of a book. Students are the future of our world, and until every school in the nation starts buying Kindles and other eBook readers, books will still be around. The only time I read an eBook or a Google Book snippet is when I need to do research and I don't feel like lugging around a book. I think -fiction- books will continue to be made from trees.

    Love reading your blog, Michael, we've used a few of your posts as discussion starters in my Service Leadership class.

  • Tim Dahl

    Well, I'm not in Gen Y, though I'm awful close. I was born in 1973, so I'm not sure what it makes me.

    I still like the feel of a book, though I would love to be able to afford an Ipad, and use the digital version. I do most of my research online, digital journals and such. Yes, I do look at wikipedia, though I would never quote it in a paper. If I can ever afford the technology/service, I'm sure I will be more of a digital reader. However, I'll always keep paper favorites on the shelf. I'll always take some time to grab some coffee and my current reading material, if for no other reason that the digital is just as temporary as it is eternal.

    What do I mean by that. 1) It is eternal. We never write anything on the web that we won't want to see ever again. There will always be a copy of it somewhere. In a sense, it is eternal. However 2) it is also horribly temporary. Or perhaps, I should say horribly fragile. Sure, no fire will eat up your digital copy if it is stored out in the nether. But, hard drives crash, servers go down, and our wonderful technology goes kapoot in some way shape form or fashion.

    So, at least for the time being, I see digital copies on the rise, and possibly paper copies falling a bit. But, there will be a place for both in the here & now, and possibly in the here & after.

    My recent post Epiphany – Mr. Banks Gets It!!! #MaryPoppins

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  • Gladwell Musau

    Wow. I am glad I stuck to the END of the video. Oh…that is one incredible confirmation. It is us , authors, aspiring or published and publishers who need to listen rather to ourselves and the positive that is being said…and discard the negative that book publishing is dying out. Someone said it well….'EVERY CLOUD HAS A SILVER LINING' So…I will be looking out for the Silver rather that getting discouraged by the cloud!!!


    My recent post DOES HE KNOW YOUR ADDRESS?

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  • bondChristian

    Wow, I love backwardness. I'm going to try to write something like that. Thanks for sharing.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

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  • John Young

    Two sides/perspectives to every story. I can’t wait to live long enough to see which version of this video resembles the real world we’ll live in. I believe content is king but we are just so bombarded with more content that at times it becomes noise. I’m looking harder than ever, even now, for the things that have impact. It’s so easy for a lot to just be redundant.

  • Kyle Watson

    This may sound too simple and without deep thought. I think we are going to have more options for all people. Readers and writers of all types will have many options. The future will give every voice a chance to be heard. And people will decide what they like and don't like. You will have all kinds of small, medium, and large networks of writers. And each writer will have a fan base of readers.

    Then again. Who knows.

  • tamstew

    What a fantastic video!! Very clever. I'm enjoying watching the industry transform. I LOVE reading; my parents instilled that in me from a very young age (born 1974). I read fiction and non-fiction, and I always read non-fiction with a pencil to mark up, take notes, and underline text. I'm very interested in the e-readers, iPads, etc. I've never tried to read an entire manuscript on my computer so I'm not sure if I can see myself curled up in bed with an iPad, but on the other hand, I can't say I couldn't. I don't know what's going to happen, but I love watching it all unfold….now THIS has the makings of a good book! ;-)

  • Andrew

    I've been trying to keep abreast of the publishing situation as a wanna-be author, and I keep seeing many people proclaim the end of publishing as we know it. Even comments here have boldly labeled books as antiquated; make way for the digital revolution! Just out of curiosity, I Googled the total number of Kindle owners in the world. Do you now how many Kindles are out there? By Q4 of 2009, Amazon had sold 1.5 million units. Now, considering the United States has a population of well over 300 million people, that's not very much (and I might add that Amazon is selling worldwide). In fact, just considering the U.S. alone that makes Kindle users less than 0.5% of the population. I realize there are other digital readers out there, but seriously? Books are not dead until they are in the minority. I'm not saying it couldn't happen; just don't be so quick to judge. Good video, even if it was inspired by another. Thanks Michael!

  • Victoria


  • Sheridan Voysey

    Not just a nice piece of analysis – a brilliant piece of writing. Anyone ready to write a back-to-front-to back book yet? I’m starting this afternoon…

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  • Catherine Jaime

    I followed the link to this from one of your more recent blog entries.  I have to admit to being alarmed at the beginning of the video – though 10 of my 12 children would technically be “Gen Y’s” that don’t fit that original model!  

    But it was fun to see it play out to the end…As a reader and a writer I definitely see books as alive in well in paper and as e-books, and likely to stay that way for some time to come!

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