The Bookseller is to crowd-source writing about the future of the book business, with one essay to be published in the weekly magazine each month.
Every aspect of the book business is undergoing radical re-invention: what it means to be a publisher now is different to what it meant in 1953, 1993, and even 2003 -- ditto the role of the bookseller, the librarian and even the writer. As Faber chief executive Stephen Page has said, the trade is in the midst of a “riot of cross-dressing”. 'The Essay' will be a short think-piece that looks to address the change: what it means, where it came from and how it impacts the core roles.
The inspiration for the initiative comes from Profile Books' digital publishing director Michael Bhaskar whose book The Content Machine is a conscious attempt to chart a line from publishing's past to its present, and see how it tracks into the digital future. As Bhaskar writes: "Now anyone can publish or be a publisher, what does it really mean to publish?"
The first 'Essay' is to be published at the end of November. A panel of judges, including Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, Bhaskar, Curtis Brown m.d. Jonny Geller, Sandeep Mahal partnerships manager at The Reading Agency, Jason Cooper, digital and enterprise development director at Faber, and writer Molly Flatt will select the first winner.
Jones said: "Publishing has always been about big ideas; it's long been at the forefront of social and technological change, its people forward-thinking and articulate. We hope to tap into that."
As well as publication in The Bookseller, the writer of each winning entry will be invited to join the judging panel for the following's month's 'Essay'. The winner of the November competition will also be invited to attend the FutureBook Conference, held this year on 21st November. Selected essays will also be published on FutureBook.net.
Submissions are now open for essays up to 1,000 words. Please send by 8th November to Philip.Jones@bookseller.co.uk, with the subject line "The Essay".