Yesterday afternoon here at South by Southwest (SXSW) I had the chance to sit in on a panel featuring Clay Shirky (author of Here Comes Everybody) and several key members of the traditional book publishing world, including representatives of Penguin and Bloomsbury, titled New Think for Old Publishers. Unfortunately this panel had very little think involved, as the first half of the panel basically consisted of introductions, descriptions of favorite books recently read and attempts to reinforce the importance of the beaurocratic system traditional publishers work in (and why this model is essential for book readers). It wasn’t until the second half of the single hour allotted for the conversation that the audience was told the publishers weren’t here with “new think” but instead wanted to get ideas from the audience. What ensued was quite a show of vitriol from the audience.
Rather than get into the details of the audience discussion (you can get the gist from the Twitter discourse or can get the overview from MediaLoper), I want to discuss a bit the bigger point the publishing industry doesn’t seem to be getting – they no longer hold the keys to the kingdom. Continue reading →