Best of 2011: Publishing and Technology

While citizens took to the streets to protest around the world, there were other upheavals in 2011: not least in the world of publishing. As digital publishing consolidated its grip on the mainstream, we saw bricks-and-mortar bookstores close and online retailers swallow one another whole.

It wasn’t all gloomy news, though; in fact, the digital book industry flourished as both readers and retailers learned to adapt. While some complained early in the year of a lack of available eBooks in Australia, Melbourne-based outfit emerged to facilitate electronic book sales for local bookstores, and digital book industry awards also surfaced.

Project Gutenberg began offering free public domain titles for download to smartphones. Seth Godin recast libraries as home of the information specialist rather than as mere storehouses for books, and predicted that eBooks would be comparable in price to Gilette razors in the future. He wasn’t the only one gazing into the crystal ball; JE Fishman offered his own account of what the future might hold for books.

Early in the year, our residents Australian Poetry launched their iPhone app. And during the Emerging Writers' Festival, Simon Groth took to the Lunchbox/Soapbox to reassure sentimental readers that their fear of electronic publishing was irrational. We continued to host Meanland events, too, including those tackling the evolution of the bookshop and the ways we write for new media.

We looked at the rise of the typo in digital publishing, while Mandy Brett argued for the enduring importance of editors, whether or not books are eventually deprecated.

Of course, it’s not yet over for the paper book – especially if you’re doing it yourself. We looked at DIY publishing more than once over the course of the year, explored DIY marketing for authors, investigated ways in which the paper book is enduring and evolving and watched with interest as mysteries appeared on the street, page by page. And as the year drew to a close, we noted Dymocks' entry into the self-publishing market with D Publishing.

As the book continues to change in our hands, there may be little we can reliably anticipate beyond further change. But as George MacEncroe reminded us, that may be as good as a holiday.

We sincerely hope that you enjoy yours.

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