The death of print

The author enters and looks at the assembled crowd. He clears throat once, then twice, before stepping up on the soap-box.

Print is not dead. You heard it here, folks. Printed books aren’t going anywhere.

Take a minute. Write that down if you need to.

Is digital media changing the playing field? Absolutely. Being able to download a book — a whole library — to carry around on a reader that fits in your purse is awesome. It might even get more people reading, and that’s great. But it isn’t for everyone. The idea that everyone who reads wants, or for that matter can AFFORD a digital reader, is tantamount to madness. That doesn’t even account for the book-fetishists who simply prefer the look, smell, and feel of a printed book; who love to read a book and then share it simply by handing it over on the bus.

My feeling is that those who cry “Print is Dead!” really mean that publishing as we know it is dead. And maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. Big publishing has largely tied their wagon to the homogenization of the novel, the lowest common denominator for the widest share of the market. That model requires a broad readership. And there is nothing wrong with that, except not EVERYONE wants to read the latest best seller.

As long as there are individuals who seek out the stories they want to read, there will be someone there providing it. Or, failing that, that individual might provide that material themselves. I started writing super-hero novels about 5 years ago not because I thought it was going to be a huge trend, but because they were the stories I wanted to tell.

And guess what? People want to read them. Not the size of readership Dan Brown or Stephanie Meyer draw, but that’s okay with me. With the growth of POD publishing and direct marketing through the internet and to local bookstores, I can satisfy that market easily. And sure, I can do digital downloads like the big boys, but I don’t have a digital reader. Don’t really plan on getting one soon, either. And I don’t feel the need to punish those who don’t by limiting their choices.

It’s not going to make me rich. But I’m not in it for the money.

I’m not alone in that. As long as no one throws a clog into the last printing press left on Earth, there will be someone using it to create a book.

Publishing, and print, is changing. It’s evolving into a leaner, more targeted creature. But it’s far from dead.

And that’s brilliant.

The author steps from the soap-box and returns to the anthology he is assembling — Cobalt City Timeslip. It will be available in print and digital download in October, 2010.

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