We invented sliced bread all over again

Back to what publishing really is

Image: Marta D’Asaro

Some months ago we launched a new tool with the slogan “We invented sliced bread!”. Thinking back, I realize all our tools and strategy is basically getting back to inventing sliced bread all over again, for publishing.

Aware of the great danger books are in, StreetLib wants to be part — if not the initiative — of the mission to save books in our digital world. Do we stop to read words because of new technologies? Do we not like books anymore? As I strongly believe that both answers to these questions are NO, I don’t see why new technologies and the internet would be the enemy here. Quite the opposite: They are the allies that can make books thrive again.

This is where it all starts. No writer, no book. Publishing has to answer writers and books’ needs first.

Why does publishing exist? What is it for? Who is it for? It’s designing our company’s new presentation (I’m all about copy and communication there) that I realized that we are actually inventing publishing all over again. The job of Publishing is to build good books, well made both in content, structure and format to then spread them to the right readers.
Breaking news! Alert the media! Revolution among our midst! Not. That has been the publisher’s mission all along.

Publishing is about carrying the book in its best shape from writer to reader

I believe what StreetLib is doing is to go back to this core mission while adapting the way to achieve this to fit not only the new technologies part of our daily life but also to adapt to the person we became because of these innovations.

Because we can reach the world ourselves as individual — and mostly for free — thanks to the Internet, as a publisher why wouldn’t I use it to spread a book? Because we can find anyone and anything online, why not go there to find the professionals who can help make my book’s content and structure great? Because great developers are building tools that are so user friendly that anyone can now set up and build pretty much anything, why wouldn’t I use one of these to format my manuscript and build my book file?

So the question is, what does someone need to publish a book? Someone = anyone. Someone = a writer, a publishing house, a small group of book lovers, a company, etc. StreetLib exists to answer this question.

We give people what is needed to successfully publish a book nowadays. In Giacomo’s post about our launch in the US, you can read how we do that:

Of course, you can also go to our website and discover in detail all our tools and services to see what we are doing here and how.

This post is more about why we are here: to help publishing get within anyone’s reach and, even though the law may not be on my side on this: to remind the publishing world that a book is a book is a book. What makes a book is its content, the writer behind the words and the reader in front of them. These are the ones we care about. Our founder and CEO once said “I do not love e-books”, I’d say on my side I love that they exist to help words travel and thrive online but I also love that these same words can be put down on paper and create a palpable object. Paper books are beautiful objects and certainly need to be monetized higher than eBooks because they are also a manufactured — gorgeous — object.

I won’t spend time here showing you how erroneous it is to put eBooks as a threat against paper books for books to live. Why? Because they are both books! You could spent hours saying the paper object is part of the sanctity of the book and that pages that aren’t really turned aren’t real at all but could you say you haven’t read Les Misérables after reading every single word of Victor Hugo’s book on your eReader? Would you swear you aren’t taken in Jules Verne’s adventures because you read them on a screen?

Readers are still here. They may have changed their spectacles, among other things, but here they are.

With publishing growing into an industry years after years, some of its core mission has been lost and it forgot about the book’s founding members: a writer, words and a reader.

I am so happy to be part of an adventure willing to put books at the center of publishing again and that wants to take the best of what today is to help them thrive.