Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on the Future of the Book

Go Digital or Die?: An Author Perspective on the Future of the Book

Dr Lynne Spender, Dr Dale Spender.

At a time when publishers are publishing more books but most authors are earning less, when the next generation of readers is spending more time on mobile phones than reading, it is time for authors to challenge the traditional book publishing model.
While new technologies have reduced the costs of producing, printing and distributing books, few of these financial benefits have been passed on to authors. Indeed, it can be argued that authors now subsidise the book industry. Almost all authors provide their work in digital form, enabling considerable cost savings in the publishing process. Many pay for manuscript assessments and for professional editors. Many pay for their own launches. And the high discounts demanded by chain booksellers are paid for by reduced royalties to authors.
Authors are in a position to learn and use digital developments to create new forms of writing and delivery of their work and with these, new readers. We can and should renegotiate our relationships with publishers, arguing for better and more flexible contracts and greater accountability and transparency. Publishers too could implement new technologies and trial new products and new profit-sharing arrangements with authors as partners. If they don’t, authors should reconsider traditional publishing arrangements and explore more equitable, if at this stage more risky, means and methods of producing and distributing our work.
Lynne Spender
Dale Spender

February 2004


Dr Lynne Spender  (Australia)

Dale and Lynne Spender, sisters living in Australia, have between them written and edited over 50 books, few of which are still in print. Their letter writing, some of which was published in Australia and the USA as 'Scribbling Sisters', has given way to email and text messages. They wonder what will become of the book and the writer in the digital age.

Dr Dale Spender  (Australia)

  • Authors
  • Book publishing
  • New technologies
  • Digital future

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)