It is already a cliché to announce the demise of the book in the wake of the digital revolution. While it might be unwise to stake our futures on the printed-and-bound codex, it seems doubtful that a shift in the way words are delivered will result in the downfall of long-form writing itself. What does seem questionable, however, is the persistence of the current publishing model in which publishers act as gatekeepers. In the ‘democratised’ digital republic enabled by self-publishing, what threatens to remain is a wasteland in which the inhabitants elect their culture via a ballot of sparsely distributed consumer capital. The ‘book’ looks likely to persist. What may not is the current way in which we decide what is worthwhile between the (digital) covers.
This piece forms a (short) point of intersection between my work on scholarly communications and some thinking on literary value and market-production. It will be available in green open access form at the Lincoln institutional repository after a month's embargo period.