where the writers are

Fingers crossed and spreadsheets ready, an ad for A Genie in the House of Saud: Zubis Rises will appear in the New York Times Book Review this Sunday.  A print ad for an ebook may seem like an anomaly, a cultural crossover into a land divided by technology.  Indeed, an anomaly is "something different; not easily classified" [Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary], but so is the evolving publishing world, as editors seek new ways to reach readers who seek the story they haven't yet read.

While so many people have maintained for so long that the universal language is love, I would propose that the univeral language is imagination.  Language no longer need be a barrier for the written word.  There are software programs that convert words, translate text, and thus unite readers.  It is the appreciation for a tale told from a fertile imagination that remains steady, like the genetic mapping that brings us all back to a single mother. 

And where are these readers and listeners brought together?  The story circle has shifted as the world has expanded.  The Internet is the new campfire around which people will gather.  Cup your hands and observe your fingers.  These are the replacements for our ears.  An index-finger click of a download and the firm palming of an electronic reader sends out the story like a comet.  A book that is available as paper-and-ink and as an electronic download straddles two cultures.  But what of a purely electronic book?  Are readers who are loyal only to the tactile pleasure of a tome eliminated from the burgeoning world of virtual words?

"I could never read a book online: I need to flip the pages."  "I need to smell the ink."  "I need to read in bed."  These are the chants of resistance to reading from the screen.  And yet, the invading force marches on. Online bookstores are biting into the Barnes & Nobles and Borders.  Electronic readers, like the Kindle, the Sony Reader, and the Palm, are selling.  Ebooks are selling.  Will an ebook advertised in the purely print version of the New York Times Book Review sell?  I guess I'll find out over the next days and weeks.  I have faith in the evolution of the imagination.