What Publishers Need to Learn from Software Developers

There was a great exchange on the O’Reilly editors’ backchannel the other day, so illuminating that I thought I should share it with the rest of you. We’ve been discussing the fast-track development we’re using to produce The Twitter Book. (We’re basically authoring the book as a presentation, after I realized how much more quickly I am able to put together a slide deck to make my points than I am a normal book. Twitter is also such a fast-moving topic that we need to be able to update the book every time we reprint it.)

Sarah Milstein wrote:

Apropos of everything, the NYT on publishers’ speeding up the production
process, especially with eBooks

“If this book had gone through the normal publishing procedures,” Mr.
Kiyosaki said, “it wouldn’t be worth writing.”

Andrew Savikas replied:

The more I think about it the more obvious it’s becoming to me that the next generation of authoring/production tools will have much more in common with today’s software development tools than with today’s word processors.

Software developers spend enormous amounts of time creatively writing with text, editing, revising, refining multiple interconnected textual works — and often doing so in a highly distributed way with many collaborators. Few writers or editors spend as much time as developers with text, and it only makes sense to apply the lessons developers have learned about managing collaborative writing and editing projects at scale.

‘Nuff said. I await said next generation of authoring/production tools.

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