The Content Machine

Towards a Theory of Publishing from the Printing Press to the Digital Network

Michael Bhaskar

The Content Machine

A ground-breaking study that demonstrates how publishing can survive and thrive in the digital age.

Imprint: Anthem Press
ISBN 9780857281111
October 2013 | 226 Pages | 216 x 140mm / 8.5 x 5.5 | 3+ figures
PRICE:  £13.99  /  $19.95  Buy from  Buy from

About This Book

‘[A] sophisticated approach to what most interested readers would agree is an exceptionally daunting task. The book is detail-rich but capacious in its selection of examples and its synthesis of what the author argues are the essential elements tying together publishing circumstances that many might consider discrete or incompatible. […] Bhaskar’s treatment of familiar problematics [is] refreshingly well-reasoned and well-argued.’ —Aaron McCollough, ‘Journal of Electronic Publishing’

‘Bhaskar shows you not just where publishing's going but where publishing went while we were all sleepwalking. The definitive guide to the bleak yet fascinating future of books.’ —‘New York Times’ bestselling author Michael Levin, CEO,

‘Michael Bhaskar brings his considerable experience as a digital publishing professional to inform a fascinating theory of publishing with broad historical scope.’ —Dan Franklin, Digital Publisher, Random House Group

Publishing is in crisis. Publishing has always been in crisis, but today’s version, fuelled by the digital boom, has some frightening symptoms. Trade publishers see their mid-lists hollowed, academic customers face budgetary pressures from higher education spending cuts, and educational publishers encounter increased competition across their markets. But over the centuries, forced change has been the norm for publishers. Somehow, they continue to adapt.

This ground-breaking study, the first of its kind, outlines a theory of publishing that allows publishing houses to focus on their core competencies in difficult times while building a broader notion of what they are capable of. Tracing the history of publishing from the press works of fifteenth-century Germany to twenty-first-century Silicon Valley, via Venice, Beijing, Paris and London, ‘The Content Machine’ offers a new understanding of media and literature, analysing their many connections to technology and history. In answer to those who insist that publishing has no future in a digital age, this book gives a rejuvenated identity to this ever-changing industry and demonstrates how it can survive and thrive in a period of unprecedented challenges.

Readership: In addition to publishing professionals, potential readers include students and scholars of publishing, media and the history of the book.

Author Information

Michael Bhaskar is a digital publisher, researcher and writer based in London. 

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction: Useful Middlemen; Chapter 1: The Problem of Publishing; Chapter 2: The Digital Context and Challenge; Chapter 3: How Content Works; Chapter 4: The System of Publishing; Chapter 5: Models; Chapter 6: Addressing Problems, Meeting Challenges; Conclusion: Inside the Content Machine; Bibliography; Index