Words are words. If an audience is reading a publisher's words, doesn't it count as publishing?
That would seem to be the theory at work at Sourcebooks. The independent publisher is busily developing apps for Apple systems. Reading, in whatever form, is where they've gone to survive.
The publishing world is struggling, now that books aren't the main source of cheap entertainment. Those with money to spare are spending it on adult toys like iPhones and iPads. It makes sense, then, to create an app for the hardware that will get people using a book, albeit in non-book form.
If the world of reading is going digital, Sourcebooks is positioning itself to be there ahead of time. Download a Sourcebooks app and you can study for the SAT. Like taking quizzes with your significant other? You can obtain an app from Sourcebooks and ask all those important questions to help you determine if you should marry that man of your dreams.
Married and expecting a blessed event? Sourcebooks has a book of baby names that you can store on your iPhone and browse while you're in labor. Who'd think to pack the book in the bag of important labor-related items, next to the tube of tennis balls? But you know you'll always have your phone with you.
Will all the digital hype play out into reality? No one can predict the future of publishing. No one can say if the antipathy some express towards reading tablets is indicative of a trend or just a personal opinion being spouted.
Not knowing which way the wind will blow, wise publishing houses are prepared to go in any and all directions that sales will take them. Being flexible is the key to survival in an uncertain business climate.
Getting reading material out to the general public in every possible way is where publishing is at right now. How much longer before there's an app for a publisher's complete list of e-books, for those times when you fell like reading but miss the experience of browsing in a bookstore?
Or will the tactile, sensual nature of paper and ink win out in the end?