So, I handed in my essay on new media in higher educational publishing today. Looking over it, I feel I’ll have to substantially rework it to make it blog-ready. For one thing, it sounds too much like the sort of essay any competent university student could write on autopilot. For another, I didn’t really come out with an opinion about eReaders in the end – I assessed the pros and cons, but ended by stating nothing more than that eReaders are a potentially huge sea change in publishing, and that it’ll take a while for things to sort out.

While it’s the truth, it felt wishy-washy.  So here’s my bold prediction:

If publishers don’t act fast, they’re going to get screwed.  They’re going to get screwed because eReaders are going to be popular, and if they get popular enough, people will find a way to get around whatever DRM measures publishers put in place – remember the old trick of running a marker around the edge of a CD to make it burnable? People are innovative, and they are cheap. The majority of books published in Canada don’t make money as it is – how will the Canadian industry suffer once books inevitably make their way onto P2P networks even more than they already have? It’ll cause publishers to rely even more on a tiny elite cadre of moneymakers to shore up their losses, concentrating the industry and leaving new talent out in the cold.

I say this as someone who has only a few qualms about downloading torrents – I’ve gotten lots of albums for free, and even movies, miniseries and TV shows. I have no doubt that if I get a digital reader, it’ll be more than easy to find content to fill it without spending a red cent.