Monthly Archives: February 2010

The future of publishing

The Publishing houses might soon need to sell off some desks, relocate to smaller premises, and downsize the coffee machine. The large staff may lose their jobs but they will certainly not lose their work. Here’s why we think so:

The ease by which a person may publish their work has now reached the point where it takes less than 45 seconds to set up a blog. The creative writers who are also tech savvy may very well add links to that blog that are relevant to their writing, let alone generate income from that. Example, a blog of a work of fiction where the protagonist drives a certain car may include a link, paid or not, to the manufacture’s website. There could be a suggested list of songs that accompanies the work, or links to the places mentioned, whether restaurants or cities or small towns.

All of this is currently achievable and has been for some time, yet it did not create the threat to the publishing industry that is now looming. That is due to the fact that it was not packaged like it now will be with the iPad and Kindle. Writers will now be able to sell their work directly through iTunes or Amazon. But any work?

Anyone could have printed their material themselves and tried to sell it and many have. But the process required more than just printing. A work needs to be edited, checked, and reviewed. More importantly, it needed exposure and distribution. Isbn’s, shelf spaces, book signing tours. You needed the big publishing houses. Even if you went the independent publishing route, chances were that the house was already owned by one of the big names.

The one thing that has changed now is that editors, proofreaders, marketers, and jacket designers can be freelancers who receive work by email. Their work is still in demand but they don’t have to be in big publishing houses to do so.

School textbooks: Now here’s a very interesting future. Once linked through electronic media, a history lesson would include immediate interactive maps and footage available at a finger’s touch. The sound of the bombing would render a more realistic meander into battles past than a black and white picture might ever achieve. Chemistry might become that much easier when we can actually see what the *&^% is the teacher talking about. Poetry? what if students were unlucky enough to have a dull English language teacher who could never transfer the beauty of verse? Well, we are sure that we will be able to locate some site where we would find great explanations and insight into verse from someone who could really transfer the beauty.

You get the point.

The industry will not collapse. It will just be broken up into the different areas that are now housed under one roof.

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Lack of Arabic Content

The chief strategist of Etisalat, one of the two telecom providers in the UAE, believes that there is not enough Arabic content on the internet to take full advantage of newly built broadband networks in the region.
It is an interesting exercise to ponder on that comment.
Not that the increase in bandwidth in the region is only beneficial if content in Arabic is abundant, but we would like to list some of the reasons why we believe there is scarcity in that area.
1- The widespread use of the English language in the region
2- Technology is being produced in the English language (here’s another pondering station)
3- Content is directly linked to freedom of expression
4- The Arabic language is common to the region only in its classical form. This means that the written language is different the spoken one.
5- Creativity, although present in the region, is not widespread (see freedom of expression)

The problem boils down to a very important issue which is the quality of the teaching of the Arabic language in schools as well as the quality of teaching in the Arabic language.

Before content is produced, we need to produce those who can churn out that content. Our kids are as bright as any. But they are not intrigued by the Arabic language. And it is not their fault.

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