Cavemen, Gutenberg and the 'New' Stone Tablets
The Neanderthal man had the same reasons we do for wanting better print technology: More Neanderthals could "publish" their ideas, to make them available to others.
Initially, man could only "publish" his ideas verbally. Better printing methods—that is, the advent of cave painting as communication—enabled those who had something to say to make what they had to say available for others to read. However, cave painting was not portable, and it was "expensive."
Then, man began chiseling language onto stone tablets—6,000 years ago. The written word was portable. But it was still expensive and time consuming.
Despite modern advances in printing technology, the publishing industry still lives with the same basic problem. Most printing presses today remain labor-intensive and therefore expensive to set up. As a result, only a very small percentage of authors who write are ever published. Those who receive rejections are in very good company, as the following authors, and many more, were, at some point, turned down by a publisher: Mark Twain, Shakespeare, Dr. Seuss, Steven King, George Orwell and Agatha Christie. The list goes on and on.
The reason for this is that publishers are still essentially printing the written word on stone tablets. The printing technology used for the past 6,000 years, including its advancements, is the modern equivalent of stone tablets.
The Next Step in Publishing Evolution
Like Gutenberg, forward-thinking publishers are popularizing the next step in printing: on-demand technology.
The process is very simple. Instead of printing thousands of books, putting them in a warehouse and hoping they will sell, they print them digitally, as demand arises. More and more publishers, including mainstream publishers, are moving in this direction. Publishers who used to do initial print runs of 10,000 or 20,000 books now print just 1,000 books. Then they wait to see how the book is selling. If it is not selling well, it moves to being produced on-demand, and the publisher has not spent money on inventory sitting in warehouses.