When we talk about ebooks and the future of publishing, we can’t just talk about the money side of things. Yes, there needs to be a business model and all that, but we also have to talk about everyone having access to books. Even in the poorest communities in the U.S., you can walk into a public library and find a decent amount of books on a variety of topics. But there are places, such as Ghana, where it can be almost impossible to get a hold of a book. Can you fathom that? Think about the intellectual isolation that people there experience. Think of the reduced size of the world that children there live in without access to books. As it is, there are many things that the people of Ghana and other developing countries lack. Books can transport them to places where they might never be able to visit. They can enable them to experience things that they otherwise might never experience. And books can help them to grow in knowledge and wisdom in a way that is impossible without material to read.

What if we put this thought before any other when thinking about the future of publishing: How can we use the new electronic platform to make books available to everyone, even those in developing countries? Organizations such as Worldreader.org are working on this. But what are you and I– as writers, editors, proofreaders and indexers doing? What can we do? Somehow I think that if we can answer those questions first, the answers as to what to do regarding the whole digital publishing revolution will become obvious.

And the money? The profit we need to make as writers, editors, publishers, etc? I don’t know. But it can’t be our first thought.

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