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THE BIBLIO FILE is one of the world's leading podcasts about "the book" and an inquiry into the wider world of book culture. Hosted by NIGEL BEALE it features wide ranging conversations with authors, poets, book publishers, booksellers, book editors, book collectors, book makers, book scholars, book critics, book designers, book publicists, literary agents and other best practitioners on Robert Darnton's "communications circuit."

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May 22, 2021

John Brookshire Thompson is a British sociologist,  a professor at the University of Cambridge, and a fellow of Jesus College. His work over the past two decades has focused particularly on the publishing industry. Books in the Digital Age: The Transformation of Academic and Higher Education Publishing in Britain and the United States (Polity, 2005) presents an analysis of higher education publishing from 1980 to 2005. Much of the analysis is based on industry interviews made on condition of anonymity. His Merchants of Culture (Polity, 2009) covers in a similar way, the entire publishing and bookselling industry from the 1960s to 2008. 
 
We talk here about his latest book Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing (Polity, 2021) which tells the story of book publishing's wild ride over the past decade - the surge of e-books, the self-publishing explosion and the growing popularity of audiobooks - plus successful and failed attempts to create new businesses in this space. It's a comprehensive, dense (in a good way) human read; and, if you love books as I do, an extremely entertaining way to spend 15 hours or so.