How to Rescue the Publishing Industry

My Current Thoughts:
In the digital age, a book is no longer a “thing.” Reading is a “process.” Our current system for both books and music is still tied up with the idea of objects rather than a time-based process.
As technology improves, I believe that instead of tracking purchases of books and music (that we might never actually process) our gadgets will track the time we spend listening to each track of music and the number of words we read in a book, then charge a unified account accordingly (think nickels, not dollars), with royalties being disbursed to the appropriate artists or writers.
Amazon is experimenting with something along these lines with their loaning library system in which readers “join” in order to “borrow” Kindle books, and the authors are only paid if the reader reads more than 10% of the book. But you pay to join, and you may never get your money’s worth out of it. (And authors are encouraged to write really short books.)
I suspect that there will soon be competition in which you don’t join, but are charged by the item, and by the percentage of the item you “process.” I, for one, would rather pay 10-cents every time I hear a song I like than pay $15 for a CD or even $1 for a song on my ipod. I would rather pay 10-cents for every 5,000 words I read of a book, than risk $1 on a self-published e-book that I might stop reading after two pages. This would be especially true if I knew that the author or artist was actually receiving the bulk of the fee.
Right now, with Amazon controlling so much of the market, they can take a hefty portion of everyone’s royalties (though not as big as traditional publishers). They are trying to consolidate their lead by forcing authors to choose Kindle-only services or get left behind. That can’t last long. There are too many pre-Amazon books out there, and they can’t control the technological advances on their way.

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