These are interesting times.
Book store sales are dropping, Borders on the verge of collapse, while places like Amazon report an impressive rise in their stats. Fewer people are reading books but there’s been a modest increase (3%) of those reading “literary” offerings. Newspapers are in decline, advertising revenues dwindling; to a great extent, folks now get their news, sports and entertainment info from on-line sources.
Despite their daunting price tags, more and more people are using devices like the Kindle and the Sony e-Reader or related palm-sized gadgets. And employing said gadgets to avail themselves of books presented in electronic formats, downloading and reading them in growing numbers.
I’m an old fashioned lad, a real throwback when it comes to all this technology–miles behind digital sages like Mike Cane, who have seen the future and are showing the rest of us dummies what lies ahead.
But I’m learning. I’ve posted two of my novels and numerous short stories on this site and, frankly, I’ve been astonished by the amount of people who have downloaded them–some of them are reading my fiction and essays on their computer screens, even printing them up to peruse at their leisure. But I’m also noticing a growing number who are coming over from various e-book sites and forums, places like this and this…
Frankly, I couldn’t care less how you read something I’ve written, what format you choose.
Coming up in March, some folks are celebrating the new reality in publishing by sponsoring “Read an E-Book Week” and I’m only too happy to throw my weight behind this event.
Thanks to this blog and the ability it gives me to electronically publish my work, I’ve been able to bypass the gate-keepers of publishing, editors and agents with one eye on the fickle marketplace and the other on their bank accounts. They’re no longer interested in identifying the “best” writers, merely the ones that hold out the most hope of selling the most books and earning them (agents, editors) more money. And that, of course, means producing empty-headed commercial fiction, copycat books and the latest “poor me” memoir.
But, re: the sales figures above, their record of late hasn’t been too impressive. The reading public has largely ignored the authors they herald, the derivative works they champion.
It’s time for a new paradigm and e-books are part of the solution. They put power and control back into the hands of writers, allowing them to publish their work without editorial interference or an unhealthy obsession with what’s perceived to be popular.
Authors can now create their own “buzz” and attract readers from around the world to their work. Others have debated the merits of offering material free, but I have found it has worked wonders for me, raising my profile to hitherto unheard of heights. Tens of thousands of folks from around the world have visited this blog and many, many of them have taken the opportunity to read and enjoy the material I offer.
Hats off to the folks behind “Read an E-Book Week”. I congratulate them for their foresight and the vision they have of a future where authors are granted paramount importance and corporate publishing is, increasingly, marginalized, rendered superfluous, perhaps even obsolete.
That day isn’t far off. And when it finally arrives, it won’t be cause for mourning or despair. On the contrary–and I’ll be one of the liberated, independent artists dancing a victory jig on their graves…