"Try Everything"

Recently, Neil Gaiman gave a keynote speech at the London Book Fair (video, imbedding seems to be turned off).  It is a beautiful speech, filled with wit and masterful storytelling.  In particular, he talks about publishing and creating in the face of disruptive technologies.  And ultimately, adapting and moving forwards with (or ahead of) disruptive technology is key. 

This is a beautiful and very relevant statement.  We can't always tell which ideas will disrupt our lives and which will fizzle out unnoticed.  Think of all the services/technologies that we use daily that didn't exist 5 or 10 years ago.  At one point the concept of an online only bookstore was considered a folly.  Library services for children largely started as an experiment just over a hundred years ago at the New York Public Library (Lepore, Jill. "The Lion and the Mouse." The New Yorker. The New Yorker, 21 July 2008).  Now libraries without a children's department exist as the rare exception and teen services are popping up like dandelions. Libraries are developing their own ebook lending platforms, exploring their place in the self-publishing ecosystem, offer anything from cook ware to musical instruments, and host events on a wide range of topics including butchery.

Jumping into the unknown is often difficult and frightening.  Not to mention potentially costly and incredibly disruptive.  Maybe that's a bright side of dependence on grants, public funding, and public interest.  Librarians constantly look at ways to reinvent themselves with the resources available to better attract public interest, and displays of innovation are often needed to win grant funding.

If you were paying attention you may have noticed that I mentioned that libraries are exploring their place in the world of self-publishing.  There are gaps in the large industry publishing model that large quantities of creative content simply pass by.  As it turns out, some libraries have started to step into that gap to not only help authors publish, but perhaps even give them the tools for a polished book.  Networking authors to editors, reviewers, and tools for writing.  If our ebook platform allows we add copies to our ebook collections.  There are some really interesting ways libraries could expand into this space.

This is not to say that publishers aren't exploring options. I came across Publishing Hackathon which greatly intrigues me, and I will be looking for the resultant presentations while at BEA this year:
"Book discovery needs innovation. It’s never been easier to get a book into a reader’s hands—just one click. But, with over 10,000 books published each year on every topic imaginable, how do people find out about them? There are fewer bookstores to help readers discover exciting new authors and ideas. There’s currently no digital experience that replicates the serendipity of browsing bookshelves. Recommendation engines are fairly primitive – they know what you bought, but they don’t know why. It’s a disruptive opportunity that hasn’t been explored."
In the mean time, in Gaiman's words "Try everything.  Make mistakes.  Surprise ourselves.  Try anything else.  Fail.  Fail better.  And succeed in ways we never would have imagined a year or a week ago."  See what place these have in your life and explore.

Additional Links
London Book Fair 2013: In Keynote, Gaiman Says 'Try Everything'
Neil Gaiman urges publishers to 'make mistakes' in uncertain new era


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