Saturday, January 26, 2013

'It's the Coffee, Not the Cup'

That "cup half-full" take on digital publishing in the headline above comes from Tim Ditlow, tapped recently by Amazon to head the company's expansion into children's and young adult books, including a new ebook imprint specifically aimed at teen readers.

I found that line in a post by writer/blogger Roz Foster, who heard Ditlow's talk in August at a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference. Ditlow urged authors at last summer's Los Angeles gathering to focus on their stories, not the means by which they find their readers -- in print, in digital form, or through audio books, the business he was in before coming to Amazon.

Summing up what she heard from Ditlow and other speakers, Foster described an "industry-severing split between the print and digital sides of the business" -- a split that will sound familiar to people working in most corners of the media biz:

"Print publishing veterans at this conference appeared too established and mature in their careers to be forced to look very seriously for a new digital path. These distinguished agents, editors and publishers remain diehard champions of great, important literature and high-quality print editions.... 
"On the other side of the divide, future-looking folks, or those with a little more time ahead of them in their careers, appeared to recognize that they must face the digital facts.  They’re trying to balance high literary standards with the breakneck speed of the digital marketplace. They’re trying to surmount a steep technological learning curve while software, e-marketing techniques and industry business models innovate by the nanosecond. If this new generation of publishing professionals can stay calm and open-minded enough to spot the pattern of what’s working well in the chaos, they’ll become the heroic vanguard for a new, respected publishing model just now being forged."

Image above by Hocus Focus Studio via iStockphoto.

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