Like so many of us, I watched and enjoyed the recent Booknet Canada talk by Richard Nash that’s been pinging around the Internet this week. By far, his thoughts on the publishing industry are the most forward-thinking and insightful I’ve yet heard. In particular, the observation about Oprah really illuminated the supply/demand inversion that he advocates. And the “15 hours in someone else’s head” idea really expresses, better than any explanation I’ve encountered, why reading is a fundamentally communal activity.
My question, and one that he even seemed to acknowledge before taking questions, is: What now? As an industry philosophy, his perception about reading as a community endeavor is both heartening and seemingly irrefutable. But what practices, specifically, does Nash advocate? Has he outlined these practices elsewhere?
I’ve followed Soft Skull for some time, including when Nash managed it; I’ve read his comments and listened to recent speech; I have no reason to disagree with the breathless assessments of his publishing-industry acumen. But I am really, at this point, more interested in a specific model to follow. On his website, Nash lists a couple of forthcoming projects, including “a start-up called Cursor, a portfolio of niche social publishing communities.” He then says,
Its two key attributes are:
One, that it is designed to be profitable in a universe where the price of digital content has fallen to zero (and if it doesn’t, well, it’ll be that much more profitable, won’t it…?), and
Two, that it is designed to offer the feedback loop that the supply-chain structure of publishing currently thwarts.
Again, lovely. I’m rooting for him. But why so coy?