COVER STORY: Inside the Ebook Test Kitchen
According to Sol Rosenberg, VP of business development and content acquisition at New York's Copia, it pays to keep an eye not just on publishing, but on media in general.
"The business of what used to be books and printed content is changing rapidly," Rosenberg says rapidly himself. "Ebooks will be a blip on the radar of history. Whether the next step is some sort of an app or a file or a container, those things are in flux and will continue to be in flux. Today it's EPUB, next it's EPUB3, and then someone will come out with something that will revolutionize everything again."
What Rosenberg and Copia see happening is not necessarily homogenous. "What happens in fiction will be one set of x-thousand things, and what happens in cookbooks will be another x-thousand things," he figures. "You'll have an explosion of different audiences."
Which means that cutting-edge technology may differ between segments. It's why Copia views itself as a platform more than a publishing technology company, with a focus on delivering "what is en vogue today, with a mission to keep on top of things as they change." For instance, Copia will be rolling out a cloud music platform to support its publishing platform. "Books, or whatever we call them today, will always keep changing."
Change: A Two-Way Street
As the nature of what a book is evolves, so, too, will society's relationship with the book. It's important to remember, says Ted Striphas, Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Indiana University, that with every perceived advance there is a tradeoff.
For instance, while society gained enormously with the advent of the printing press, the increased availability of books led to more extensive reading at the sacrifice of intensive reading. "People tended to read more intensively," says Striphas. "They'd read one, two or three books in a lifetime and read them intimately. They became masters of those texts.