Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Brotherly Band

On company blogs, people talk most frequently about the results of what their company does. It's very infrequent that people talk about how the company does it (that's the trade secret, after all).

Are we ever going to get there? What would it take for us all to talk to each other about how we go about our business?

That is, to some extent, what the publisher O'Reilly's doing with their Tools of Change for Publishing conference and blog. Maybe it's because publishing as an industry's beginning to feel a little too squeezed? Like we all have to be in this together? Like we're all staring the beast in the face and think that throwing our lot together may be our last hope?

Well, maybe it's not that dramatic. But it's something that William Heinemann proposed in an Athanaeum article in 1892. Then it was shrinking profit margins due to exploding author advances and production costs. Now it's exploding author advances and flat sales.

So do we get more cutthroat (as in many cases we are), or do we, in Heinemann's words, and in O'Reilly's footsteps, "form ourselves into a brotherly band, and stand together against the inroads that are being made on our common interests"?

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