Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing

John B. Thompson. Polity, $35 (450p) ISBN 978-1-5095-4678-7
Sociologist Thompson (Merchants of Culture) investigates the impact of digital technologies on the publishing industry in this insightful and intelligent history. Asking “what happens when the oldest of our media industries collides with the great technological revolution of our time,” Thompson examines the impact of e-books on the business, concluding that the central tension in modern publishing is “different ways of thinking about content and... generating power.” Where publishers have seen books as a profit stream, large tech companies such as Amazon (with its creation of the Kindle) and Google (with its ambitious book scanning project) instead see them as a means to an end, leveraging them to draw in users for the purpose of gaining data that they can monetize in other ways. Thompson also covers such topics as self-publishing (which diminishes publishers’ ability to gatekeep), access to capital via crowdfunding, and subscription services as they moved from TV and music into the book world. Thompson knows his material, but the granularity he gets into—the workflow of audiobook narrators, the marketing methods behind sites such as Book Bub—might be more than general readers are interested in. Still, the attention to detail is sure to fascinate bibliophiles and anyone with an interest in the industry. (May)
Reviewed on : 03/15/2021
Release date: 04/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 450 pages - 978-1-5095-4679-4
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