Publishing Then — And Now
Publishing has come a long way since Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1439. If you listen to some folks, it would seem nothing changed for 500 years. Take a look at the old letterpress on the left. It’s a proof press that dates back to 1850, and it’s sitting in the Rupriikki Media Museum, in Tampere, Finland. (How long do you think it would have taken them to print a book on that?)
Contrast that with the image on the right—
But that aside, publishing has certainly changed in the past two decades and, in particular, in the past 5-10 years. POD has come of age, and the technology, quality, and speed can only improve from here. As for ebooks—they’re nothing new, but the manner in which they are produced, processed, distributed, and sold have shaken the pillars of traditional publishing. To say it was a wake-up call is a huge understatement.
But the old guard of publishing have not been idle. They took a few quick hits, but they regrouped and are coming back, demonstrating innovation that many pundits said the Big Five had lost. It remains to be seen what will happen in the next few years, but it’s sure to be a wild ride.