Legend has it that, for most of the Twentieth Century, the American publishing industry worked like this: authors signed with New York houses to have their works appear in print. The writers traveled to the Big Apple to be coddled by their literary agents and publishers, whose blandishments included two-martini lunches and expensive dinners. The publisher would invest in advertising new titles in magazines and newspapers. An army of salesmen (and a few sales women) traveled to brick-and-mortar bookstores around the country, promoting and taking orders for the forthcoming tome.
Well, Toto, we ain’t in Kansas anymore. Beginning around the Eighties, it appears as though the complexion of publishing underwent a series of tsunami-like changes. To my way of thinking, the biggest “disruptive” factors since the invention of moveable type were the introduction of personal computers and wordprocessing software, the re-definition of publishing as a commodity industry and the dawning of the Internet Age.
Stay tuned for Part Two on this topic!