The Changing Nature of the Publishing Industry and the Distribution of Written Expression

There are many books listed in RealityTest's Resources section, books distributed, promoted, and sold by an industry which has been with us for centuries, its nature changing very little in all of that time. Authors write books and publishers produce them, arranging for their marketing, distribution, and, hopefully, sale. (Clearly this long-time arrangement has greatly benefitted not just publishers, distributors, and bookstores, but authors and their readers as well.)

While many of the corporate entities involved in this industry are of a scale dwarfing anything existing a century ago, employing devices and machinery far more sophisticated than the equipment and processes of times past even while contemporary communications technology brings an awareness of their products to a vast public in ways -- very speedy ways -- no one foresaw even a short time ago, the overall pattern has remained little changed.

Little changed until now, that is. Beyond the increased focus of resources on bestselling authors (not unlike the movie industry's increased reliance on "blockbusters"), revolutionary changes are currently afoot, changes themselves part of greater changes, external manifestations of quickening inner processes. These changes aren't restricted to the mammoth on-line book bazaars, either; RealityTest and many other sites are part of this revolution -- the words here do not pass through any facet of the traditional publishing industry, not at this time; they are conveyed to you, the reader, directly. (What if Edward Gibbon had had his own website, accessible to anyone at any hour, nearly anywhere on the planet?)

RealityTest doesn't foresee the extinction of the publishing industry, but rather a hybrid strain resulting from a cross fertilization of the old and the new. RealityTest expects physical books will always be with us -- they are easy to use, portable, and require neither batteries nor technical support personnel. Nevertheless, if and when Hewlett-Packard decides to offer a personal book printer, something which attaches to a personal computer and allows downloaded files to be converted into some kind of bound volume, expect to see a review of it here.

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