22 March 2008

What is publishing mojo?

In a 2007 interview Marissa Mayer, the vice-president in charge of the Google Books project, told The New Yorker magazine, "If we provide access to books we are going to get much higher-quality and much more reliable information. We are moving up the food chain." Google's co-founder Sergey Brin echoed this view: "Comprehensiveness [is] about having the really high-quality information. You have thousands of years of human knowledge, and probably the highest-quality knowledge is captured in books."
Why does the search-engine giant Google look to books for the highest-quality knowledge? It's publishing mojo. Publishers created a model that still can't be improved on:
  • To search and select the best ideas from around the world
  • To present them in a clear and attractive design
  • To deliver them in a convenient and affordable format
  • To preserve them for the future.
For centuries books have been the vehicle for the best that human culture has to offer. Now we have other vehicles, but we still need publishing mojo: the conviction that what we are making is valuable, and deserves all the care and creativity we can muster.

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