I don’t really understand economics. Why gas prices go up in the summer eludes me, for example. But I was very interested in Ransom Stevens’ clear analysis of the economics of the publishing industry in this age of Internet and ebooks.


[I am going to go back to do more scanning of the content of the parent site: OpenDemocracy.net whom I thank for Stephens’ article which is released with a Creative Commons license. Good.]

Ransom Stephens isn’t described as an economist either (the article link of his name leads to his ID as a technologist and physicist, but his article is both enlightening and clear. His analysis may be controversial in the era of Digital Rights Management and expanding copyright terms. But new authors come along all the time. A few of them get a book published through the current system. Stephens envisions that all authors would get their shot and a new “word of mouth” in the Internet would give more of them a chance. He does have the following statement of publishing gloom though.

Except for the case of textbooks – but that’s a different article (the answer: textbooks in printed form will truly, conclusively die).

Is this a future of books you can live with?

Do you have a different view, and how open do you think the process needs to be?