Publishing in 2021: A Bloodbath, or a Gentle Evolution?S

SFSignal asks a bunch of writers and publishing professionals what publishing will look like 10 years from now — and the answers range from the hair-raisingly apocalyptic to the mildly jarring.

On the one hand, SF Signal's "Mind Meld" feature kicks off with Cheryl Morgan's incredibly depressing and terrifying view of a world in which A) electronic publishing dominates and B) net neutrality is a thing of the past, so only huge companies can provide content:

Where will this leave the fiction business? Well, novels will still be produced, of course, though the best sellers will mostly be (ghost) written by celebrities. Literature snobs like us will still be able to buy novels by actual authors, but it will be increasingly hard for anyone to make a living solely from writing them. Publication will be in the hands of small independents who will be forced to distribute through Amazon and Apple, on ever less favorable terms, because they can't afford the fees to gain access to the new, corporate internet themselves.

It's enough to make you take to the streets and demand net neutrality, which is of course Morgan's point.

Other people are somewhat more measured in their view of the future, although the consensus seems to be that e-books are going to take over to a large extent, big book retailers are doomed, some large publishers may go under or fragment, and way fewer authors are going to be making a living writing fiction. Concludes Under My Roof author Nick Mamatas:

The major houses are pigs and some of them are going to die. We should gleefully bathe in their blood and fat!... It won't be bad, unless you're one of the few people making money right now with mindless hackwork. If you are, the 2010s will be your decade to suffer as the rest of us have suffered these past thirty years.

Image via Shutterstock. [SFSignal]