Publish or Perish

I recently read the online edition of an insightful article by media maven Ken Auletta from the April 26, 2010 issue of The New Yorker titled “Publish or Perish: Can the iPad Topple the Kindle and Save the Book Business?” and highly recommend reading it at It is invaluable material for anyone involved in publishing today.

To get a comprehensive perspective of publishing’s challenges Auletta interviews several industry insiders for the article, including Amazon vice president of Kindle content Russ Grandinetti, who personally thinks that publishers are asking the wrong questions about the future.

According to Grandinetti, the real competition is not between traditional books and e-books. “TV, movies, Web browsing, video games are all competing for people’s valuable time. And if the book doesn’t compete we think that over time the industry will suffer,” Auletta quotes Grandinetti as saying. Consequently, Grandinetti suggests that to thrive publishers have to reimagine the book as multimedia entertainment.

Auletta reports that, along with others, David Rosenthal, the publisher of Simon & Schuster, is actively embedding audio and video and other value-added features in e-books. According to Auletta, Rosenthal says that the iPad “has opened up the possibility that we are no longer dealing with a static book. You have tremendous possibilities.”

Whoever wins the e-book sweepstakes, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: readers want what they want when they want it and the publishers who are ready, willing, and able to accommodate them will profit by meeting the need for convenient, cost-effective delivery of compelling content.