Cranbury v. McGuire: The Future of Publishing Interview

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Sometime around the middle of August I got an email from Amy Logan-Holmes at Open Book: Toronto asking whether I would be interested in participating in something called the 48 Hour Interview that would run in their Fall Issue.

She described it as an email exchange or co-interview between two people working within the books/publishing industry.  The participants are free to discuss whatever they like provided that the ‘interview’ occurs within 48 consecutive hours and, I suppose, is at least tangentially related to the business at hand.

So I’m thinking, “Ok, that sounds doable.  I wonder who she’s going to pair me up with?”

And, of course, it was Hugh McGuire, co-creator of Book Oven and Librivox.org.  Organizer of BookCamp Toronto and well-coiffed confidante of the Digital Literati.

No pressure, right?

None.

It was a great, if somewhat long, interview that really dug into some key issues facing the evolving – convulsing? – book publishing industry today.

The whole thing was edited and punched into shape by the very talented Clelia Scala.  Many thanks to Hugh and everyone at Open Book: Toronto.

For an example of something that I wrote for the interview that may or may not be interesting, please click the little red (more…) button below.

But, if we’re gonna speculate, let’s speculate…

* P2P file sharing/bit torrent technologies and whatever subsequent advances occur that offer even greater efficiencies for trading digital information are going to eviscerate current publishing models and provide new platforms for expression, sharing ideas, mixing and remixing narratives across a huge range of interconnected media and re-engineering texts in ways that make our current flap about how inviolate copyright is look like an elusive curbside conversation between two sputtering drunks.

Digital content will have a universal currency rate of 0. It will simply be given away, shared, remixed and reconstituted, and the only way to determine anything like our common sense of “worth” will be by its buoyancy and popularity on the P2P networks. Whether it translates to some commercial creative medium like film will be interesting as well.

People are going take text that they like or want to use for a specific purpose from wherever they can find it, and they are going to manipulate it to whatever ends they desire. Then they’re going to slap it into some kind of digital container and probably cross-pollinate the work with video, stills, music, scans of random junk found lying around and then they are going to share it. That content will then be reconstituted by others who have picked it up somewhere in the digital aether.

In this ridiculously dystopic Mad Max/Blade Runner world, the great Icelandic ballads are mixed together with a Kigali street-slang reawakening of The Faerie Queene and cut up with non-sequitur injections of scanned foreign fast food containers, tabloid ragas, personal histories, rude limericks and the latest photographs of Tokyo hipsters torn from graffiti magazines.

Books, released from the tyranny of their covers, physical dimensions and coordinated distribution networks will transcend themselves into a place where pure creativity and collaboration can exist without the burden of commerce.

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