Doctorow on Digital and Conventional Publishing

In O’Reilly’s Tools of Change for Publishing, Cory Doctorow discusses how potential future limitations to the Internet will affect an author’s leverage with publishers:

For writers, an industry with a single publisher that publishes 10,000 titles a year is much worse than an industry with 100 publishers, each publishing 100 titles. If a company is the only game in town, then everyone has to play by its rules. Monopolies suck.

In a world where the number of “real” publishers is contracting, and where the remaining giants are stuck in the trap of wanting to innovate, but not at the expense of existing (but dwindling) business, you’d expect lots of innovative little “publishers” to spring up, each of them trying new things. That’s what we’ve got today: from indie one-writer productions who do it all themselves to venture-funded startups trying all kinds of novel things, there is a burgeoning world of technologically enabled upstarts with nothing to lose by abandoning the traditional economics of publishing.

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