The Ether Is Moving to

20 March 2014 iStock_000023581537Small photog fabiocam texted story image 2

Table of Contents

  1. “When the industry looks out of the window”
  2. Jane Friedman: Porter’s Brain
  3. My Fellow Millennials

“When the industry looks out of the window”

You know me. I’d just amend Tom Chalmers‘ good line this way:

When the industry! the industry! stops the internal debate and looks out of the window, it will realise who will make or break them: the customer.

I’m not sure it was 134 Ethers ago exactly. But not long after I gratefully began piling onto Jane Friedman’s site here each week with Writing on the Ether, I started using the industry! the industry! to refer to folks whose interest in the digital disruption seemed to be more about the business than the books.

Tom Chalmers

Tom Chalmers

And, as Chalmers’ Book Industry Too Busy Playing With the Wrapping Paper at Digital Book World’s Expert Publishing Blog indicates, there are a lot of people still obsessed with…the industry! the industry!

Ironically, many of those folks are the same ones who are having to hustle to meet the readers.

Granted, Mike Shatzkin has assured us this week that It is not news to publishers that they have to engage directly with their readers.

This is good to hear. Also, interesting that at this late date, Shatzkin finds he must headline a piece so, isn’t it? Perceptions are so much of the game.

The UK’s Chalmers is the founding managing director of IPR License, an international literary-rights-licensing platform. He’s been making interesting noises at The Bookseller’s The FutureBook bloggery for some time, as well as at Frankfurt Book Fair’s Publishing Perspectives, home to Issues on the Ether and our weekly associated #EtherIssue weekly live tweeterie.

In this latest essay at DBW, Chalmers turns up just in time to help me explain to you what I’m doing with the Ether. And he says it several useful ways.

For example, there’s the generational concept:

Why has U.S. contemporary fiction been stronger than UK contemporary fiction over the last century? Because each reading generation has claimed books, rarely the most backed, as their own, as meaning something to and representing their generation.

And then there’s the process-protection element (“we’ve always done it this way”), emphasis mine:

If we spent less time bothered about the wrapping paper, we would have more resource and focus on finding and nurturing the best new work. In publishing, we fill slots. In the other creative industries, fashion for instance, buyers look to create new trends themselves, often creating from scratch, rather than trying to follow them. First is everything.

And, there’s this forceful outward understanding from a man who daily sees the vast breadth of the international trade markets and the sheer power of digital’s ability to array your content across them:

When it comes to finding the best quality new work, we are far too limited in where we search. Same territories, same agents, same old story. There are brilliant books, so diverse it’s impossible to even find an analogy, being published all over the world, infused with the culture they are written in but also ready to be embraced by an enraptured worldwide audience.

“An enraptured worldwide audience.” Hold that thought.

Back to Table of Contents

Jane Friedman: Porter’s Brain

No matter how many times Jane or I may talk to you here online or in conference settings or over coffee, you can hardly find a better example of what we mean when we say “networking” than the Ether.

Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman

Jane and I met online. On Twitter. We’re that story. We met en réalité at a Writer’s Digest Conference, back when men were men and women went to conferences. (Such a better gender balance at conferences now, I cannot tell you, it’s great.) We found ourselves quickly on the “confab bus,” seeing each other at these events.

I was discovering (this was in 2011) the need for the live coverage I do now as a service of my consultancy, Porter Anderson Media, from many conferences in many countries. I was learning that I could adapt one of my former control-room activities to the needs of the publishing world for quick exchanges of ideas and commentary. Jane was formulating beautifully targeted and insightful understandings of the author’s presence online.

Jane’s invitation to me to create what would become the Ether here on her pages was a direct outcome of our having met, cultivated, and committed to what has become one of the great friendships and collegial events of my career. If you think that Twitter and the other social media—still a plural word, damn it, one medium, two media—are simple billboards on which you’re to plaster your sales pitches to your publishing buddies, you’re wrong and way late in getting right.

And while I’m now moving this gathered effluvium called the Ether to a new, the truth of digital is that I’m not going anywhere. (And you thought you were getting rid of me. Ha!)

Jane and I will continue to work together on many projects. Frankly, I don’t know how she’ll get along without my maddening cries for help with some utterly ridiculous WordPress conundrum at 2 in the morning. I like to reserve my most catastrophic online errors for the wee hours to heighten the rawness of the alarm.

She is the Jane Friedman, by the way. Don’t miss her interview with that lovely pretender to the name, Jane Friedman, in the new issue of her and Manjula Martin’s superb new Scratch Magazine. And subscribe to that thing, don’t make me have to send out the Ether stationwagon to pick you up.

As I shove off here for new terrain, I lift my Campari to the Ether-eal Jane Friedman, with profound appreciation for her energy, support and networking diligence. She is the best thing to happen to a lot of us in publishing.

Back to Table of Contents

My Fellow Millennials

Do you know ThoughtCatalog?

Thought CatalogLaunched in February 2010,, a property of Thought.Is, is not—and this is the point—a publishing-industry medium. It’s known, not without controversy, as a hub of self-expression for writers whose perspective and purview skew quite young.

Ich bin ein millennial. I’m just not telling them which millennium.

Some of today’s headlines at Thought Catalog are:

There’s also The Power of Spoken Word Poetry from Mehroz Baig.

And This is Why It’s So Hard To Get Published (And It’s Not Amazon’s Fault) by Lucy Leiderman.

And The 10 Worst Boyfriends In High School Literature by Ella Ceron.

And What To Do When You Fail: How I Handled Blatantly Losing the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest by Abby Rosmarin.

And there’s also Long Reads & Digital Books: Thought Catalog is publishing.

What Is the Business of Literature by @R_NashOne of them is our ingenious friend Richard Nash’s superb What Is the Business of Literature? as a single.  You might remember reading the essay at Jane’s Virginia Quarterly Review? Now, it’s yours as an ebook. (And the price is awfully reasonable.)

Thought Catalog is the creation of Chris Lavergne, one of the most interesting of the wunderkind entrepreneurs, a guy whose compass looks set resolutely on developing cultural journalism in a way he refers to as “both conscious and natural.”

That’s how he explained it in an interview with Matthew Newton for Forbes, Thought Catalog and the New Age of Confessional Media.

And in the two years since that interview came out, Thought Catalog has grown to rank frequently among the top 50 or 60 Web sites in the world in traffic. It’s consistently tracked by Quantcast as larger than, (typo intended),, and It’s right in there, traffic-wise, with the New York Times,,

This is many eyeballs. Reading eyeballs. And that’s the point.

Chris Lavergne as pictured at Forbes

Chris Lavergne as pictured at Forbes

At one point, Lavergne and I went over procedural details, as you do when settling in at a new medium. His site’s clean, elegantly text-driven design is busied up daily with a level of international advertising that would make a lot corporate suits cry. But he doesn’t lose sight of what means the most to him in this work: these voices in their astonishing variety, the writing.

I told him that for a writer, that emphasis makes moving the Ether to Thought Catalog feel like coming home.

And I want to take a moment here to say my special thanks to a genuine friend and clear-eyed associate, Jason Allen Ashlock, a consultant’s consultant.

Porter Anderson,, Writingon the Ether, Ether for Authors, London on the Ether, Jane Friedman, Ed Nawotka, Philip Jones, Publishing Perspectives, The Bookseller, books, ebooks, author, agent, Amazon, publishing, The FutureBook, CONTEC Conference, Frankfurt Book Fair, Frankfurt Buchmesse

Brian O’Leary

In Brian O’Leary’s essay for The FutureBook, Publishing has entered a new and different era, O’Leary captured the structural adjustments rocking that doubly wailing industry that once seemed so stable:

The internet shifts traditional publishing from a gatekeeping role, deciding what will be published, to a truer form of curation: managing the communities and conversations that may ultimately inform a rendered component.

O’Leary asks us to get past “debating the future of our prevailing supply chain” and to consider what it means when “readers look to customize their own content consumption…Boundarries between ‘types’ of publishing will blur,” he writes, challenging “the notion of what a book is and can be.”

We must be about that business.

Having chewed each other’s legs off for so long, it’s time for the publishing community in its digital dance to face outward, turn to the audience, look them in the eyes. Because if we do it only for each other—for the industry! the industry!—then we’ve forgotten the mission. It never was for each other. Literature is for the world at large. It belongs to them. What we do belongs to them. In some way, we belong to them.

It might be a good idea to fill them in on it now, you think?

Dont worry. You escape nothing.

And you can always check up on me at

Chalmers talks of getting out into the world to find the writings we need now:

Take Haruki Murakami…was a small-city man living in southern Japan and now is read all over the globe, regularly described as the world’s greatest living writer. Let’s widen our search, as we are now technically capable of doing, and find many more writers of Murakami’s brilliance.

I think the journalist’s job in all this is to talk to both sides of that widening search. I couldn’t be more excited about the chance to hear what comes back when we ping the wider world. And I expect every one of you Ethernauts to be suited up with us as we go deeper into the digital dare: I’ve got a feeling we like these people.

There’s not enough bourbon in the world, Jane. Thank you.

Main image – iStockphoto: fabiocam

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Porter Anderson / @Porter_Anderson

View posts by Porter Anderson / @Porter_Anderson

Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) is a journalist and consultant in publishing. He's The Bookseller's (London) Associate Editor in charge of The FutureBook. He's a featured writer with Thought Catalog (New York), which carries his reports, commentary, and frequent Music for Writers interviews with composers and musicians. And he's a regular contributor of "Provocations in Publishing" with Writer Unboxed. Through his consultancy, Porter Anderson Media, Porter covers, programs, and speaks at publishing conferences and other events in Europe and the US, and works with various players in publishing, such as Library Journal's SELF-e, Frankfurt Book Fair's Business Club, and authors. You can follow his editorial output at Porter Anderson Media, and via this RSS link.

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Victoria_NoeGrigoryRyzhakovThe Ether Is Moving to - Porter AndersonDebra EveJamie Chavez Recent comment authors

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Jane Friedman

Porter, thank you for being the most astute, entertaining, reliable, dedicated, and informed contributor I’ve ever worked with. I learn something from your column(s) every week, and have benefited at least as much as you have.

While both of us sometimes chortle at our own (and others’) warm-fuzzy platitudes that social-media should be used for conversation & relationship building … well, as you point out, one needs no further demonstration of the platform and career-building potential.

Congratulations on the new venture with Thought Catalog, and I look forward to seeing your column reach a wider and more diverse audience!


+1000 to what Jane just wrote. I’m heading over to Thought Catalog “write” now to catch up.

Congrats Porter.

But, I’m still going to keep bugging you to write that book. 🙂

Porter Anderson

Bug me at will, Joseph, always welcome, and thanks for all the great reading and comments. See you over at Thought Catalog!


On Twitter: @ Porter_Anderson

Porter Anderson

Probably the appropriate paraphrase for me here, Jane, is “be careful what you chortle at,” lol, since, yes, we do seem to be the demo-duo of the theory.

A complete pleasure for me, every minute and post, and an honor to have been trusted with the attention of your smart, discerning readership.

Tom Bentley
Tom Bentley

Porter, if your thoughts don’t exactly skew young, on this, the first day of Spring, they always skew springy. Looking forward to see if a mere Catalog can contain the catholic champagne bursts of your Thoughts (good opp. for Dickensian capitalization).

And Jane, thank you for swinging wide the flaps of Porter’s big tent of thoughts all this time.

Porter Anderson

Tom, you’re an incredibly generous reader, thanks so much for all the good comments here and keep them coming at, you’ll be most welcome there, of course. That “mere Catalog” looks pretty sturdy to me, but I’ll do my best at that springiness, lol. 🙂


On Twitter @ Porter_Anderson

Diane Krause

Wishing you all the best as you begin a new adventure at Thought Catalog! (As a reflective personality type, I’m all over any place that has the word “thought” in its name.) I will happily follow you there. So now I make two stops for all the good stuff — no biggie. 🙂

I can’t wait until I’m all grown up and have the opportunity to bump into you at every conference event known to modern man. Until then, the Ether will suffice. Best wishes to you. (And to you as well, Jane!)

Porter Anderson

Thanks, Diane,

You’re a great reader and nothing is more appreciated. Look forward to seeing you at those conferences, too, and see you over at for more Etherizing. 🙂


On Twitter @ Porter_Anderson

Dave Newton
Dave Newton

I share your frustration and agree about “medium” and “media.” But, “Blatently”? Sorry.

Porter Anderson

Hi, Dave, thanks for the note. Typo fixed, good catch, sir.

On Twitter: @ Porter_Anderson

Dave Newton
Dave Newton

You’re welcome. Thanks for your good work.

Christina Katz

Porter, I thought Jane and I met you at the Washington, DC AWP? I could be wrong, but I distinctly remember her talking me into meeting that “Porter guy from Twitter.” And look at you now. No longer “that Porter guy from Twitter” and now dedicated to serving and informing writers with investigative depth and omnipresent zeal. I too, will keep bugging you to write that book, but my reminder is for the one you told me about at that very first meeting—the novel. Not sure if that’s the same as the other. Best of luck in your new digital… Read more »

Porter Anderson

Hey, Christina! Your memory is very close to right. Jane and I had spoken briefly at WDC in New York in January before we were all at AWP in February in DC and I was in the back of the room during a session you guys were giving, live-tweeting my head off from my BlackBerry because — of course! — no decent wi-fi. 🙂 I did enjoy our dinner there, too, I recall it well as “that Porter guy from Twitter,” lol. Thanks for the very kind words and do follow the scent of Ether to, it’s a wonderful… Read more »

Christina Katz

I stand corrected, first by Jane and now by you. Best of luck in the new digs and hope to see you on your book tour when you come to PDX! 😉

Porter Anderson

LOL hope we didn’t pounce! In fact, that first time in person with Jane was quite perfect for what was to come. I found her waaaaay back at an empty table at the back of the room during a conference session at the Sheraton in NYC (you’ll remember it from TOC days) and I was at the next empty table at the back of the room…because we both were trying to find plugs for our computers in the rear wall of the ballroom. Exactly right for the two of us, right? LOL Will get busy booking that tour right now.:)… Read more »

Jamie Chavez
Jamie Chavez

OK, I followed the link to Thought Catalog, entered my email address, clicked subscribe, and … I get a little (error?) message that reads “Please enter a value.” Refresh, repeat, same. Tried a different browser, still no joy. I’ll keep trying.

Porter Anderson

Hey, Jamie,

Sorry for the problems. The link will go live probably tomorrow as my work starts appearing at Thought Catalog. Meanwhile, my guess is that what you’re subscribing to is the site’s weekly newsletter on books which won’t be necessary to see stories. The home page of the site is here In case you’d like to peruse it meanwhile. I should have a piece appear there tomorrow.


On Twitter: @ Porter_Anderson

Jamie Chavez
Jamie Chavez

Thanks — just don’t want to miss anything. 🙂

Debra Eve

Well, Porter, I completely depend on you to keep me knowledgeable about “the industry! the industry!” so I have no problem following you to Thought Catalog. And of course, staying here and reading Jane too. You two are the best sources on the web for writing and publishing.

Best of luck on the new venture. It will be interesting to read the opinions of a whole new audience. In the meantime, I’m off to check out “9 Excellent Reasons Not to Get a Tattoo.” I was seriously considering a Yeats quote for the upcoming big birthday 😉

Porter Anderson

Ha! That tattoo sounds a lot more edifying than some — and today’s Thought Catalog array of stories includes “3 Excellent Reasons Why People Choose To Get Tattoos,” so there’s hope for that Yeats tatt yet. 🙂

Thanks for your kind words and for contributing so much in comments and at Later Bloomer. Great to have you along, and neither of us will be straying far from, I agree, an essential source of publishing input, always — I’m grateful to have had such chance to be associated with it for so long!


On Twitter: @ Porter_Anderson


[…] Writing on the Ether: The Ether Is Moving to […]


Congratulations with moving over to Thought Catalog, Porter. Your wit and brilliance deserve as many ‘eye balls’ as you wish. Keep pushing the publishing industry towards the reader 🙂

Porter Anderson

Hey, thanks, Grisha!

Already ensconced at TC and in good hands — a great staff, really lovely to work with. Here’s the “Porter page,” jump in and have a look when you can, and thanks again!


On Twitter: @ Porter_Anderson


Congrats are certainly in order, Porter, on the new gig. But I feel like I need alerts posted to my phone to let me know where you are online. I already know all I have to do at a conference is stand in the lobby waving a bottle of Campari over my head and you’ll come running. 😉 That’s hard to replicate online.
You’re working on getting us a bar for Author Hub, right?

Porter Anderson

Hey, Viki! Thank you, and to keep up with me, just keep an eye on my beautifully revamped site at (if I do say so, myself, and of course I do). I had one mishap on the way to my redesign, which blew up the entire site — good times — but now it’s functioning and each new story will be added to the main page in the slider at the top so you can find it. Also, there are a couple of easy ways to track me at various media. At Thought Catalog (new piece shortly): At… Read more »