Publishing

Even the Tech-Savvy Hold on to Old-Fashioned Books

You’d think that digital-world wizards would self-publish.

But no – a book by Eric E. Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, and Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas, is being brought out by the traditional publisher Knopf. Even members of the high-tech haute monde are attracted to having a book in paper-and-cardboard format.

The book, The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business, is coming out next April, and the publisher is said to be planning a first printing of 150,000 copies. Not bad.

Of course, with big-name executives such as this, a large printing is inevitable. Many people want to know what they think. But I would have thought that the two men, given Google’s push to digitize so many, if not all, of the world’s books, would have chosen first to go digital.

Of course, the article that led to this book was first published in an issue of Foreign Affairs magazine (you can find an extract of the initial article here). The article spoke about how new technologies can lead to greater liberties, such as, for instance, the overthrowing of tyrannical government (as with the Arab Spring).

The book will delve further into how new technologies will affect business and politics. For example, as they wrote in the Foreign Affairs article, “Connection technologies will carve out spaces for democracy as well as autocracy and empower individuals for both good and ill.”

There will likely be an e-version of the book, of course, but considering the enormous weight that Google has, it could as easily have self-published. But even the most forward-thinking executives, and those who are writing about the power of technology, can fall back to the traditional when it comes to books.

What these two men have to say will doubtless be interesting and worthwhile.

Still, it would have been more interesting if they’d trusted in the power of the world about which they write.

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