Many people are predicting massive changes to publishing as we know it, and making the case for e-readers, e-books, and a future in which the physical book is only a part of how we view reading sustained, long texts. Here are a few things you should know about the future of publishing, including the fact that small presses may be on the forefront of the wave…
—Within 50 to 70 years most power grids will be overloaded and have gone dark, in coordination with the collapse of a unified world civilization and the balkanization of cultures and societies. Any remaining pockets of electricity will be used for basic human needs or for military purposes. Therefore, e-books and e-texts will be absent from any discussion of the future of publishing.
—Although the potential reading population will have decreased from over 7 billion to about 500 million, one could hope that this would still be a large enough pool to sustain a book culture. Unfortunately, 85 percent of all survivors will be probably not have been serious readers pre-Collapse.
—In all likelihood, making a living as a full-time writer will be impossible unless you are already the leader of a junta, gang, or militia and have the resources to put out your own Mein Kampf. If you are in this position, you will have a built-in captive audience for your writings.
—Less than 0.0000001 percent of all writers in this scenario will make their living from writing, and only 3 of those writers will be novelists. Most writers will make their living selling metal scraps, human meat, and edible weeds.
—Income for poets will remain pretty much comparable to their income now.
—Large publishers will disappear, along with most cities. Small presses, especially publishers with in-house printing methods pre-dating the invention of electricity will stand to gain the most from the new publishing paradigm. Printers with emergency generators may find ways to become publishing houses for at least a short time.
—Any writer who decided to take advantage of the Google cloud and e-publishing to the exclusion of print will be forgotten.
—Writers whose books were published in durable physical editions or on paper built to last will flourish in reputation in the future, even if they themselves are buried under girders, roasting as human barbecue, or working as grimy court jesters to petty despots until the inevitable bullet to the head and their own sojourn on the spit.
—In this environment, you may be your own best audience. As ever, don’t follow trends. Write for yourself, and from your heart. While you can.