The publishing business is hard and, thanks to digital press, getting harder. The dinosaurs of the industry are not facing extinction but they are struggling. Every blogger is, in a sense, a publisher. They are filling (and expanding) the space previously reserved for columnists and journalists in print pubs. Print on Demand (PoD) services such as Amazon's captive CreateSpace and Lightning Source make it easy to publish books without having large upfront investments for print runs. Keeping inventory on hand is no longer needed. Order processing and shipping can all be handled by the major online stores and the PoD services.
There are many new publishers. Over at Poets&Writers they catalog 416 small press companies. About half of them will publish non-fiction but they tend to lean towards creative non-fiction. Categories like history and policy are dominated by traditional academic press, and a few great publishers like O'Reilly Media, Wiley, No Starch, and Syngress churn out a steady steam of technology books.
But in this day of immediacy and speed to market there may be room for a new model, a model IT-Harvest Press is trying. Compared to traditional publishing we can get books to market that are very timely. As an example, my latest book, There Will Be Cyberwar, was written over a two year period. It started as a Master's thesis for King's College London. It took nine months to write the 14,000 word manuscript for graduation, and it took a little over a year to adapt it to a longer book. Since the topic was about development of military cyber capability, as I wrote it there was a constant flood of new material appearing in the news. The first head of US Cybercom, General Keith Alexander, stepped down. Numerous hacks of US networks occurred. And just in the last few weeks the draft Defense Authorization Act appeared with a $200 million line item for implementing just the sort of software review that my book calls for.
The manuscript for There Will Be Cyberwar was essentially done in May, final copy editing was done over the last weekend in parallel with final checks on citations. The book will be published June 16 with citations dating to June 4. This is high speed publishing. This, I believe, is a dramatic change in book publishing: topical books with current information.
My books on cyber military developments are used at a lot of schools. I like the idea that students this fall will have an up-to-date history of US Cybercom to study. If I had gone the traditional publishing route There Will Be Cyberwar would not be available to instructors until the summer of 2016 and it would be considerably out of date.