Joe Wikert asks whatever happened to innovation in the publishing industry. Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader takes him to task. There’s a sort of tone of reproach in both of their pieces that publishers have allowed innovation to be carried out by “outsiders”.

But I wonder why innovation should be such a shibboleth. Why should anyone in our business want to do things in a new way? We publishers facilitate the passage of content from author to reader. And the way we are doing so is working just fine, thank you very much. You can shout all you want about the need to expand the audience, but the reason more people don’t read books is not because they can’t get books in some whizz-bang way, it’s because they have no interest in reading a book. And just because lots of people don’t want to read a book is no reason why publishers should give up on books and seek out some sexier product. We’re called book publishers for a reason. We don’t especially care how the communication between author and reader happens, just as long as we make a buck off it. Inventing new ways to deliver content isn’t a thing anyone has to do. If customers want content in a new way, then, as soon as they discover this way I think you can rely on publishers jumping in to fill the need. If the public doesn’t yet realize it wants stuff in some imaginary new way, so what? No publisher should get in front of the wave: wait till they clamor for it, and then be ready to deliver. Maybe there are people sulking that they can’t get books delivered telepathically to their brain, but if so they need to shout a little louder. No publisher has any interest in going out and researching how such a feat might be achieved. It’s just not our job.

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