It’s my no-longer-secret-shame that I don’t get to read for pleasure. Which is not to say that I don’t get pleasure from reading, but all my reading is professional—either fiction I’m editing for publication, or nonfiction I’m reading to make myself a better pimp for that fiction. In that latter regard, therefore, Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus, William Poundstone’s Priceless, David Edgerton’s The Shock of the Old and Josh Greenberg’s From Betamax to Blockbuster are critical tools for overcoming the variants of the Stockholm Syndrome that afflict publishers. By which I mean: we have become our own hostages. We have internalized the values of our captors. We can walk away, Shirky and Edgerton make this clear through their own unblinkering, unblinking view of history, Greenberg in his analytic yet loving account of the fans, Poundstone by show the way to dramatically new pricing models. These books also admonish us not to worship our new conquerors, technology—our relationship to it is far more complex than we acknowledge. To better understand what we’re leaving, make sure to check out John B. Thompson’s The Merchants of Culture. Genre? The everything-we-know-is-wrong genre. These books gave me a clue.
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