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Change is the vehicle for publishing’s future, not the catalyst of its demise

Intel futurist Brian David Johnson on the future of publishing — and why there will be one.

At the recent TOC conference in New York, Intel futurist Brian David Johnson (@IntelFuturist) gave a keynote address about changing the future. It’s so simple, he said, but changing the future requires us only to “change the story that people tell themselves about the future that they will will live in.” He noted that as writers and publishers, we are not only in control of the narrative, but that we are masters of it, and it’s our job to continue reaching people and changing the narrative, regardless of changing devices or methods of delivery — it’s the story, the narrative, that matters. (You can watch Johnson’s keynote on YouTube.)

I had a chance to sit down with Johnson to talk about the future of publishing and fear of change. He said the beauty of it is that the publishing industry can change and adapt to continue to give readers and consumers what they want. The important thing, he said, was for publishers and writers to continue to connect to and engage with their readers:

“The publishing industry has always been changing. This is not something new; change is not new to the publishing industry. It’s been pretty wild — when Mr. Gutenberg starting doing his publishing, it’s not like it has always stayed the same. I think people are always scared of change because they’re not exactly sure what’s going to happen, but the reason why the publishing industry has been so vibrant, the reason why it has literally affected our present and will affect our future is because it can change. Where will it go? I think it will follow those screens; I think it will follow what people want; I think that when you grow up with a smart phone in your pocket, it’s very different than growing up with a book in your pocket. But you still need publishers, you still need writers, and how you connect with those people will continue to change. I think that’s it — if the publishing industry continues to change and to engage people, then [its future] is very bright.” (At the 4:20 mark.)

You can view Johnson’s full interview in the following video:

All keynotes and video interviews from TOC NY 2013 can be found on the TOC 2013 YouTube playlist.

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  • http://twitter.com/deepshelf Deep Shelf

    Hi Jenn,

    Thanks for the post and interview – which in itself pushes forward the fact that there will be a future for publishing.

    I’m not sure that we do control this future, as suggested, but no doubt that new business models are needed. One of them will prevail. Or maybe several of them.

    Following a similar search for the future of publishing, we came up with another publishing model at DeepShelf, where we publish short stories by a team of leading authors and offer them for direct reading for $1 each. We’ve just launched but it seems promising. See here: http://deepshelf.com/.

    Would be happy for any type of feedback.

    Thanks,
    Tom
    DeepShelf