Friday, June 24, 2011

Richard Nash Delivers Plenary Address

"Books are social glue."

Today's CALI Conference day began with Richard Nash delivering the Plenary address to the conference participants. For those not familiar with him, Nash is a publisher, having sold the successful Softskull Press to Counterpoint and since then beginning Cursor which promises to help independent publishers. Nash's view of the future of publishing involves a look to the past and the history of the development of printing.

Nash is dedicated to bring printing and publishing to all writers so that they can, in turn, connect with readers. More writers more readers, more readers more writers. . . . Basically, there should be wide access to publishing resources. Nash believes that we've arrived at a time when supply of writing is available widely. The next hurdle will be tackling issues surrounding matching the writings with those who need them. Classic demand issues in the marketplace. Accordingly, the way in which we connect people through the web and otherwise leads to a developing preeminence of readers.

Nash's theory is dependent on recongition that more than content, culture matters. Now that individuals can self publish and distribute materials on the internet through unlimited means of sharing, the emphasis for publishers should be on the connections. The gatekeeping power of publishers controlling the content that arrives at the marketplace is diminished. Material will arrive at the market. The question is how will we find it?

Interesting thoughts on the future of publishing. Surely, it is equally applicable to legal education where, for instance, CALI has Legal Education Commons where faculty can post all types of various educational materials in differing presentations and new E-Langdell e-text project which aims to make a limited number of law textbooks available to students for free. Access is surely present. Nash commented that textbooks help students harness information in a tangible format between class sessions when they need to engage in independent learning. The big question is how that format will change now that alternative materials are available in a widespread manner. The most important facet is simply that they read, not the format.

Nash recommends for summer reading . . . Lynne Tilman's Someday This Will Be Funny. Enjoy.


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