Amazon executive Russell Grandinetti claimed recently that ‘the only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader’.
Big-name authors may well regard a publisher as an inconvenient buffer between themselves and their readers, and go to Amazon for their next big publishing deal (if the price is right). If we draw a parallel with the music industry, artists with an established following such as Radiohead can easily release new work through their own website or iTunes rather than via a record label. However, most new or niche artists still need labels to champion their work and find new audiences for them.
And even if musicians can release albums by themselves, they’ll always need producers and sound engineers to add a different perspective to their work and to make it sound as good as it possibly can. Which, to bring it back to publishing, is where copy-editors and proofreaders come in.
If Amazon were to take editorial professionals out of the equation, how many authors would want to publish a book that hadn’t been edited? And how many readers would want to buy one once the articles pointing out all the errors went viral?
Editors could find themselves working directly for Amazon or for authors in this brave new world. But for as long as readers expect accuracy when they part with their hard-earned cash, editors will always be necessary.