Oh yes. I brought it up and you knew it was coming. A blog about books and writing without one post on e-readers? I couldn’t let The Anxiety of Authorship be too unique.
I’m breaking down to talk about this now because I do have some information from the publishing industry. Not huge information, but something on the subject. A few weeks ago, we received an email that a new digital/e-book sales team was being implemented. This means it’s real. E-books are a real thing that are going to have their own nook (no pun!) in our company. It was a smart business move–publishing houses have to keep up with technology and do what they can to be monetarily efficient. So the professional in me feels good. The consumer in me is a little worried.
I guess before I got the email, I didn’t really believe in all of it. Not that I didn’t know e-books are a big deal–and I even have a Kindle I received as a graduation present last year–but I just couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see all of the books on every shelf in the world becoming invisible.
Well, that’s extreme. I still don’t think that will happen. And I’m definitely not opposed to e-readers at all. They’re a spark in our culture where reading for pleasure isn’t a given for the majority anymore.
I think there’s too many people out there who are passionate about the individuality of each book–the art, the feel, the smell–to let what happened to CDs happen to books. Maybe it’s because we all saw how Napster and subsequent MP3 programs ruined the CD–and we were all probably part of that demise too.
These changes don’t have to be evil, though. To reference the keynote speaker at my college graduation, Michael Korda (Editor-in-Chief emeritus of Simon and Schuster, actually), the change from paper books to e-books could be as monumental as the change from etching words onto stone and parchment to the advent of the printing press. We don’t need to resist it.
I just don’t want it to kill the industry. I don’t want to see authors and publishers not getting paid for their work because everyone is just downloading books illegally. And I certainly don’t want to see all of the bookstores, both indie and mainstream, close up forever. Poor Borders.
A happy medium would be amazing. But is it possible?