Tuesday, 31 January 2012
A Burning Issue?
The word 'Kindle' used to mean "to set fire to; to ignite" - but in latter times we have become accustomed to recognising this word as the name of a proprietary electronic reader. (See also 'Nook', etc.)
The battle to mass-share the written word has come a long way from Caxton and his cohorts, with their variable printing presses, but is the current ease with which stories can be shared actually likely to see the demise of physical books?
I touched on this in another post, 'eRevolution? Or just Evolution? - and there were some interesting responses!
An item on BBC Breakfast News this morning (sorry, no link available as yet) discussed the idea that eBooks/readers might have a detrimental effect on the publishing industry, amongst other things. I was struck by the analogy drawn by one of the interviewees to consider the effect electronic publishing had made on the music industry! :-o
As an alternative format, eReaders offer portability (much better slipping one in your bag for your holiday rather than squeezing lots of books in) together with choice, availability and cost; there are many low-priced (or even, free!) stories out there!
On that option of choice - there are gems out there, but sometimes it can be like panning for gold!
The other revolution that ePublishing ushers in is the ease of bypassing the 'traditional' route for authors and avoiding agents and publishers. By their very nature, both of these filter out some of the dross, but as more and more would-be writers react to constant rejection (often without the constructive criticism that would enable them to hone their skills!) by opting to self publish, might the publishing houses also be hastening their own doom by being too picky?
I worked in a library for many years - believe me, there was some utter tosh I had to shelve, yet somehow each of them had caught a publisher's eye and at least made it into print. However, as with everything these days, the decision to offer a publishing contract seems to rely less on the merits of the writer's work and more on marketability!
I've known authors who have (metaphorically) jumped through hoops at the the insistence of editors, to re-write, re-write and re-write yet again - almost to the point where their book is almost unrecognisable from the original draft!
Is it any wonder, then, that many writers see the route to having more control of their 'baby' via self-publishing?
Going back to my opening statement about the definition of 'Kindle', ePublishing certainly seems to have ignited a debate about books and surely that's a good thing? ;-)
When the dust settles, perhaps we will be able to see more clearly how this eRevolution might affect the Smörgåsbord of the literary world - but as someone I know often says '...come the Revolution, or when the oil runs out....' paper-and-ink books will still be here!