Hardcopy Books Take Another Hit: Microsoft Press Swept Clean of Editorial Staff

Hardcopy Books Take Another Hit: Microsoft Press Swept Clean of Editorial Staff

A good story is like a rock skipping across a pond. With just the right angle, trajectory, and energy, the story can see almost endless uptake. Such is the case with news today that Microsoft has taken cost-cutting measures to eliminate the editorial staff for its Microsoft Press technical book publishing service.

The initial inertia was delivered by Tony Redmond, one-time blogger here at Windows IT Pro. Tony is currently a Track Chair and speaker for IT/Dev Connections 2016 and a freelance blogger, but it’s his friendship with many of the Microsoft Press editorial staff with which he was able to catch wind of the original story.

In his new freelance gig, Tony lays out the history behind Microsoft Press, which has been serving the IT and developer community with since 1984. If you’ve been in this industry for any length of time, you’ve owned or read a Microsoft Press book and so we’re all essentially part of the history of Microsoft Press.

For those that hate change, the move is a sad one. But, if there’s one thing that is constant in the technology industry, it’s change. For Microsoft, change may be its biggest product. If only someone could harness an industry around change, Microsoft Press editorial staff wouldn’t have had to experience the chopping block. Remember, though, this doesn't mean that Microsoft Press itself is kaput, just that the full-time employees have been cut. I've heard from sources that the staff will most likely be replaced by contractors.

But, this move really speaks to the publishing industry, in general. This isn’t something that Microsoft determined overnight. There’s been whispered rumors the past few years that hardcopy books were on the way out – thanks to Amazon and its Kindle format and Adobe and its Reader software. I owned and sold an eBook business a few years back. Even at that time (around 2005), we saw real books as a dead-end market. Our eBook business (even then) was successful enough to be acquired. But, the true nail in the coffin has been how the software industry has adopted constantly changing and evolving software. Windows 10 is a great example of this. The constant change and frequent updates make it extremely difficult for book publishers to deliver timely content. By the time a book is published and released, it’s almost 6 months stale. It’s just much easier to update electronic versions.

A minor takeaway, but might be major for some, is that Microsoft seems to show very little in the way of nostalgia or sympathy in an effort to eliminate waste. No one really knows what will be the next product, service, or sub-business to get the axe. Even those within Microsoft are constantly on watch for signs their area might be absorbed or cut completely.

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