I loved seeing this piece in the NY Times, especially the photo: It reminded me of my days in publishing (albeit in the mid-nineties rather than the mid-eighties). We had computers instead of typewriters, of course, and we didn’t have those gigantic phones — but we did have cigarettes in hand and manuscripts all over the place. (It’s amazing that we all didn’t go up in flames, now that I think about it.)
And I’m sure anyone who’s worked in publishing, especially in the past decade, is amazed by how things are changing, and how quickly. As Joni Evans writes at the end of this short article, “Is the screen the new paper? Will publishing houses go the way of the old-fashioned record store? Is digital delivery the new bookstore? Is Google the new library? Is the author the new musician, playing directly to the audience? Is the audience the new author?”
Lots of good questions (none of which she chose to answer, and I can’t blame her). However, there’s evidence that people are paying attention to the change and preparing for it: as the Bellingham Herald reports, Village Books in Bellingham, Washington, has adopted the Espresso book-printing machine, as well as other e-book tools — and Boston.com covers a New England prep school that is doing away with its traditional library in favor of digital information, complete with flat-screen TVs and e-readers (the headmaster says, “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls”).
For someone who grew up reading traditional books (and still prefers them), the notion of a completely digital library is a bit bizarre to me (I like Village Books’ solution — offering consumers both). Yet the trend toward digital is gaining momentum, and, environmentally speaking, we do have a verdict: E-books are greener than traditional books, according to this Fast Company article.
And while there are some things electronics still can’t do (as authors we’re still figuring out how to sign a Kindle), this LA Times blog about bookish apps for the iPhone shows that digital is only getting stronger (even I have given up my 20-lb dictionary for a digital one).
These interesting times have caused angst for many writers — but to me, this is what’s changed the least in publishing: What people love is a good story, no matter how or where or why they choose to read it. (As we all know by now, ridiculously bestselling author Dan Brown’s new book will be simultaneously released in traditional and e form). So while we writers may worry about whether our books will be paper or digital or both, we might be better off staying focused on what we’re trying to say — and to realize that how people read is secondary to the stories themselves.
Causes Midge Raymond Supports
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Mercy Corps, Doctors without Borders, Coffee Kids, Northwest Harvest, Treehouse for Kids, Angeline's Day Shelter for...