I read an interesting article by Hugh McGuire in Forbes about the future of the book. In the article, he mentioned numerous things you can’t do with a book that you can do with a web page on the internet. McGuire muses that books must merge with the Internet and in so doing will become even more valuable.
Much of what he posited as needing to take place is happening. I can easily cut and paste anything I’m reading digitally and post the quote to Twitter and Facebook. Amazon is more than happy to direct anyone clicking on my quote right to the page to buy the book. This is cut and paste. This is deep linking to the book. And it maintains an economic novel that rewards the individual author.
McGuire gets lost in his own argument however when he writes: –You cannot query across, say, all books about Montreal written in 1942–even if they are from the same publisher. Wait a minute, I thought books and the Internet would be interchangeable. What McGuire is actually arguing for here is a more refined search, not the merging of books and the Internet. These are two different things. The digitization of books will merge books with the Internet. Accessibility will be the duty of the author and publishers.
The new job of a publisher is SEO. As McGuire pointed out, API’s are applications to make sure that people access your data and not someone else’s data. The future of books is incorporation into the digital mass of information. In an age were anyone can publish anything and have it remain forever, the future of publishing is search engine optimization.