Monday, June 20, 2011

The E-Book Revolution

During my hiatus from blogging, I managed to keep up with my weekly writers' group meetings. I haven't done any creative writing in a very long time, but just being around my writer buddies keeps me from wallowing in the stews of anxiety. Our discussions--works-in-progress, books being read, developments in publishing--are soothing and reassuring. My own writing interests and ambitions have long been in stasis, but I enjoy their successes vicariously and I value their esteem. To the Wordsmiths group--Charles Gramlich, Laura RowlandSteve HarrisCandice ProctorRexanne Becnel, Pam AhearnMarie Goodwin--thanks for being there.

Sony Reader
E-publishing has been one of our regular discussion topics for quite a while. The increasing popularity of e-books and the resulting huge changes in traditional publishing concern us all. Our individual opinions run the gamut: Some of us have been eager to embrace the new technology (I myself own a Sony Reader and a NookColor reader); some are gingerly learning about it and trying it out; some have sworn never to read an e-book. We all are stunned by reports of huge sales of a few writers' backlists in e-book form (e.g., Barbara Freethy) and writers who became popular and successful through e-books alone (e.g., Amanda Hocking).

NookColor e-reader
The biggest change that e-publishing works is that many authors e-publish without a traditional publisher. They are self-published or, as it's coming to be called, "indy" published. This wreaks havoc with the financial aspects of the publishing business. Established publishers don't earn money from authors' self-published works nor, in most cases, is there an agent involved. One of the members of my writers' group is an agent, so this directly affects her future in the business. 

As an unpublished author, it's encouraging to think I can get my work out to the world despite rejection by traditional publishers, but it's discouraging to realize how few self-e-published authors earn significant money. (There will be very few Amanda Hockings.) As a reader, it's encouraging to realize there will be more variety on the reading market--we won't be locked into books published only to follow trends; we'll get to see good work that was rejected by a traditional publisher as not marketable enough.  On the other hand, we readers also will have to wade through a lot of dreck that people will e-publish, because without screening via review by an agent and/or editor, some really bad work is going online. 

Kindle e-reader
One way or the other, e-publishing is the future. Paper books won't die, but more and more people will go to e-readers. As much as I love books (and I own thousands of them), I love the idea of being able to carry hundreds of books with me in one small e-reader. I long ago ran out of shelf space in my home for traditional books; being able to store them invisibly in a device the size of a single slender volume is appealing.

I'll still want to keep paper books around. After all, what if I have to do without electricity for a while and can't recharge my e-reader? (I can never forget the post-Katrina morass of loss of power, etc.) The idea of going without reading material terrifies me! So next time I evacuate for a storm, I'll carry my e-readers with me...but I'll also bring some paper books. Just to be safe. 


Charles Gramlich said...

I still read about 3 to one paper books over ebooks, but I would have missed out on some truly great books if I didn't have an ereader.

thanks for the shout out!

Pontchartrain Pete said...

Welcome back! I've been pretty remiss in keeping up with my blog myself.

I (for the time being) refuse to get on the e-reader bandwagon. I read and write on a screen all day long, so when it's time to read for myself, I need a book. There's also the camaraderie that comes from lending (or borrowing) books between friends that you forgo with an e-book.

Sphinx Ink said...

Thanks for commenting, Pete and Charles. It's good to be back. I've missed my "blog buddies" . . . tho' I have been keeping up with your blogs despite being silent on mine.