Thank you, Meghan. And thanks to Bookmarks for inviting me in the first place. And
thanks to Bookmarks for being around for the past 10 years I’m not exactly sure, but I think
I’ve been to all of them as a librarian, and as a bookseller, as an exhibitor, as a reader, and
now as a “digital publisher.” And of course the past decade has brought many, many changes
to the publishing industry.
But lots of things are very different, come to think of it, than they were a decade ago:
for one thing, in 2004, we were all 10 years younger, George W. Bush was president, and it
was a carefree and innocent time joke. But when you talked about publishing in 2004, you
were talking about “traditional publishing” because there really wasn’t much of any other
kind. Authors shopped manuscripts, got agents, waited years, sometimes got lucky, most
often did not.
Meanwhile, in 2004, I was working for a company called Alibris.com, where we sold out-
of-print books and hard-to-find books. We built a gigantic database of out-of-print books and
hard-to-find books from independent bookshops’ stock, and consumers could “go online” and
buy books. Remember independent bookstores? Remember used bookstores? Remember
bookstores?
Remember the phones in 2004? I mean, we weren’t, but those phones we had were
dumb you sure couldn’t read (or buy) a book with your phone in 2004. Of course, in 2004,
there were no Kindles (which were invented in around 2007 I think), and no iPads (which came
out in 2010). You can now discover, acquire, and start reading a new book in about 30
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