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HarperStudio, OR Books, and Colin Robinson

Posted by Thomas Riggs in books publishing on June 3, 2009

Several blogs, including HarperStudio’s The 26th Story, recently covered the launch of OR Books, an independent publisher devoted to digital printing, ebooks, and online selling. Headed by two well-established editors, John Oakes and Colin Robinson, OR Books shares a lot in common with HarperStudio. Both imprints embrace new technology and new ways to attract readers. In this video, found on The 26th Story, Oakes and Robinson chat about the rapidly changing book business and how OR Books plans to be different.

Unfortunately it took a bit of bad luck to make this new press possible. Robinson, formerly with Verso and New Press, accepted a job as senior editor with Scribner in 2006, but when the financial crisis hit last year, he and 34 others were laid off. In the London Review of Books Robinson explains why he lost his job, despite being a highly respected editor with a long track record, and provides an impressive summary of what’s wrong with publishing today. After discussing issues from deep discounts to the Robinson Patman Act of 1936, he says,

Perhaps the problem has to do with more than just the way in which words are transmitted. People bowl alone, shop online, abandon cinemas for DVDs, and chat to each other electronically rather than go to a bar. In an increasingly self-centred society a premium is placed on being heard rather than listening, being seen rather than watching, and on being read rather than reading.

We wish OR Books good luck in finding a new and better system for publishing.


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