Smart, witty, downright hilarious, and highly recommended. Check out his “battle” with William Gibson.
Stephenson doesn’t allow himself to get drawn into a Mortar + Brick vs Netstore, or manufacturing vs just put-it-online battle. He seems to think that publishers have weathered bigger challenges than that and will simply adjust.
While a lopt of people seem to think that a publisher, or record company merely manufactures and delivers goods, a service that won’t be needed in the future if we all switch to digital distribution, I disagree with that notion. I think it is becoming more and more evident that a publishing house or record company is not the sum of their priniting presses and that their real value is in their brand. If one can create a trusted brand then one simply moves from manufacturing to selecting. It is, simply stated, a move from book-maker/record-company to Curator.
In other words in a world of overwhelming noise we will have to trust someone to help us make a selection, because we cannot wade through all of the noise by ourselves…
And then there is the other point of PR… just making something available on the net does not a hit make. Which means periferal publishing jobs like Public Relations and Promotions will not have to change much.