A Familiar Field Sprouts New Businesses

September 2001
by James Lichtenberg

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The fear of “disintermediation” that hung heavily over all of publishing–where traditional players are iced out of the marketplace altogether by new technology–seems, for the moment, to be simply a bad dream. As Pam Harris of Baker & Taylor recently said in Publishers Weekly:“Last year, the publishing industry got out in front of the marketplace. Today, the fear that books will be the vinyl records of content is simply gone.”


Of course, the dotcom experience (its debacle notwithstanding)–or more accurately, the impact of digital information technologies on the wide world of publishing–has brought with it some important wisdom. New technologies, for example, radically lower the barriers to entry to publishing, making it possible for organizations or even individuals (read agents and authors) who were not previously publishers, to become them. In addition, it is now possible to make a market in chunks of materials–”the article economy”–along with “whole” works, i.e. traditional books, textbooks, magazines, and newspapers. (When mention of this was made to international journal publishers at last year’s London Online meeting, an Arctic hush fell over the room. To their credit, most journals are beginning to deal with this new reality.)


At a more radical level, any organization that uses the Internet is also a de facto publisher, even if there is as yet no attempt…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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