The Content Machine
Towards a Theory of Publishing from the Printing Press to the Digital Network
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’
‘In his bold and innovative book Michael Bhaskar tackles some of the big questions that surround publishing. He takes the reader on a quest for a unified theory of publishing, arriving at the Content Machine, which takes account of both its history and the challenges it faces from digital media.’ —Angus Phillips, Director, Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies
‘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. A 2013 IndieFab Award Winner.
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