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Monday, October 20, 2008

The Future in Frankfurt

by Saul Bloodworth

I just came back from the Frankfurt Book Fair, and for the first time I've spent more time in hall 4 than in hall 3. This does not sound especially impressive; however, hall 3 is where all the fancy publishing houses are, it's where you meet the famous authors, and where you get free wine and cookies. Hall 4 is for the tech freaks and used to be boring.

Now, hall 4 was pretty much in demand because everyone is afraid of that new thingy, the e-book. Google was presenting its e-book search, Amazon was showing its Kindle, albeit for one day only, and Sony was also in hall 4, passing its own e-book around (also for one day only, because the prototype got stolen).

My hunch is that we'll see a revolution in publishing, comparable with Napster and Gnutella. Because you don't need publishing houses for editing and advertisement — these people can be hired on a freelance basis anyway —, you need them for distribution. If they can be bypassed, there will be no more gatekeepers.

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