The hoary old adage is that publishing a book is like giving birth: It takes nine months.
Nowadays, we have electronic typesetting, high-speed presses, print-on-demand, and oceans of text gushing through fiberoptic pipes onto computer screens all over the planet.
So why does it still take so long to publish a dead-tree edition?
Writing in Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, Rachel Donadio explains how technology may move at the speed of light, but humans still need nine months to properly prepare, market, and distribute a book:
Technology may be speeding up the news cycle, but in publishing, things actually seem to be slowing down. Although publishers can turn an electronic file into a printed book in a matter of weeks—as they often do for hot political titles, name-brand authors or embargoed celebrity biographies likely to be leaked to the press—they usually take a year before releasing a book. Why so long? In a word, marketing.
Essay – Waiting For It – New York Times, by Rachel Donadio.
If the Singularity arrives anytime soon, perhaps super-intelligent computers will take over writing, editing and publishing.
Until then, it will take at least nine months to publish a book.