Cory Doctorow on Traditional Publishing vs. Conversational Media

This morning at Boing Boing (perhaps the most popular blog on the net), Cory Doctorow published a brilliant essay on the backward mindset of traditional book publishers – which also succinctly expressed the core value of conversational media.

SEE: Why Publishing Should Send Fruit-Baskets to Google

It’s a thoughtful analysis of the Google Book Search service and the boneheaded way that traditional publishers have been fighting it. Cory’s right: Instead of “letting slip their dogs of law” to nip incessantly at Google’s heels in the hope of securing a slice of Book Search ad revenue, book publishers should embrace the T-Bone steaks that Book Search could regularly toss them in the form of increased sales and expanded markets.

Further down in this essay, Cory explores one of the underlying reasons traditional book publishing is in trouble: the ascent of conversational media. That is, the human mind is more attuned – and attracted – to conversation or interaction than monologues. Reading a book (even a novel that includes lots of action and dialogue) is fundamentally a passive experience. It can’t compete well with more engaging media.

As the core audience of print books ages and generations weaned on conversational media come to the economic forefront, and as the tools of conversational media get better and easier, traditional book publishers may well find themselves sinking fast. As they slip beneath the quicksand, I bet they’ll regret how they’ve behaved toward Google Book Search – and how drastically they misjudged their shifting audiences…

(Read the rest of this article at The Right Conversation…)

2 thoughts on Cory Doctorow on Traditional Publishing vs. Conversational Media

  1. Your post reminds me of another I read today over at PaidContent* where there’s a quote from a former AT&T exec who likens Google to Comcast, in that they view Google as a potential adversary. Once again, like in your post, we have another example of powerbrokers who don’t quite “get it” about how the content world is probably restructing itself (unless, of course, they keep bribing politicians to enact draconian measures as we’ve witnessed).

    (* – http://www.paidcontent.org/pc/arch/2006_02_13.shtml#053626 )

  2. While it’s short-sighted for publishers not to publish their stuff online, I’m completely at a loss why they would want Google to do it on GoogleBooks. Why not just publish it themselves? That way they get the book indexed in Google’s primary index (and those of other search engines) instead of the secondary book index. Furthermore, there’s nothing to prevent them from doing both.

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