Context First: A Unified Field Theory of Publishing by Brian O’Leary

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Brian O’Leary is one of the most important thinkers on the subject of digital transition within the traditional publishing model.

He is one of the few people willing to speak openly about ebooks, piracy and P2P file sharing in a book publishing context.

His work with O’Reilly Media, Impact of P2P and Free Distribution on Book Sales, was years ahead of its time and will be remembered as an overlooked classic of the period.

The work featured in the video above was originally presented at the Books in Browsers conference in October 2010 and has been printed and updated here: Context First, Revisited.

I have spoken with Brian and had the pleasure of meeting him at the BookNet Canada Tech Forum last year in Toronto. I find his work hugely illuminating and I have used his research and credited him in many presentations that I have delivered about piracy, P2P, DRM, etc…

This video above is the culmination of years of work and, I suspect, years of banging his head against traditional publishing’s self-imposed walls of ignorance regarding digital ebook distribution.

I feel as though this presentation is likely the result of many frustrating conversations and many weird articles about piracy that we’ve all experienced over the past few years.

Sometimes that is the price that needs to be paid to force work like this into the world.

One must always be searching for better ways to express their ideas and with this presentation I feel like Brian O’Leary has made a huge step forward.

For himself, his ideas and all of us.

Thanks, Brian!

Sean Cranbury is the Executive Editor of Books on the Radio. He's also Founder and Creative Director of the Real Vancouver Writers' Series. Sean is General Manager at the legendary Storm Crow Tavern and consults with literary arts organizations on digital communications strategies.


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