In my Context of Writing course this term, we have been asked to write an analytical paper that looks at how notable individuals have changed or shaped the writing and publishing industry. This first week, we were to brainstorm some topics – that is, get some ideas about who we’re going to write on and why they were influential. As I was researching some possible candidates, the information I found was intriguing. So naturally, I want to share it with you.
Jeff Bezos is the founder of Amazon. He watched when the internet was born and then skyrocketed from 16 million users to 36 million in a single year (Wasserman). He decided to capitalize on this knowledge and sell books online. Originally, Amazon delivered books from warehouses to customers via the postal service or other commercial shippers. Now, Amazon delivers books in moments via digital downloads, and thousands of other products still from warehouse to the customer by post. They also have drone delivery service in some areas where you can get your purchase in a matter of hours. I think Amazon and Jeff Bezos would be interesting to research because I love Amazon for purchasing books, household items, craft supplies, and more. I find it fascinating that Jeff saw the trend the internet was taking and found a way to become extremely successful within a matter of a few years. Jeff has transformed publishing and allowed more authors to get their work into the public.
Stephen King is a well-known author of thriller books who has been getting published by traditional publishers since 1967 (King). He has been published by Doubleday & Co., Anchor, and Viking, and several other companies. In 2013, Stephen King digitally published a Kindle Single, therefore cutting out the publishing company (Hughes). Since then, Stephen has incorporated digital publishing into his business. Lately, the majority of his books have been published by Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster, and are available in traditional print, digital audio, and e-book (Belfiglio). While I’m not a huge fan of Stephen King, I have read some of his books and watched the movie versions. I think his career would be interesting to evaluate because he was present before the digital age of publishing and is still writing and publishing even now. As an author, one must adapt to changing technologies and Stephen has done that very well.
Jason Epstein started his career as an editor at Anchor and moved on to be the editorial director for Random House, one of the Big Six publication companies. He remained the editorial director for 40 years (Cross). When Jeff Bezos first started Amazon’s e-books, he consulted Jason Epstein. Jason told Jeff that people will still want to hold a book in their hands and turn the pages. Jason’s vision was on demand printing, where a bookstore would have copies of books for the customer to look through, then when they decided on a purchase, a new book would be printed while they waited (Wasserman). Enter the Espresso Book Machine. Jason founded On Demand Books, LLC which created the EBM, a printing press that is onsite at a retailer. The EBM provides “books printed in minutes at the point of sale for immediate pickup or delivery,” (“Executive Overview”). The more I read about Jason Epstein, the more excited I get. I remember hearing about this idea years ago and thought it was pretty cool but that it would never happen. It is amazing to be able to have a real book in your hands when you want it, and not waste paper printing books that people won’t buy. I think it would be fascinating to delve into Jason’s career as he was an editor at traditional publication companies and then moved on to found a company that enables people all over the world to get a book within a few minutes. He changed the world of book printing.