Thursday, 3 March 2011

eRevolution? Or just Evolution?

I was pointed in the direction of an article yesterday that has made me think long and hard about this writing 'lark'. Then today I came across this

Writers invest a lot of time and effort crafting and refining their stories - but that's merely the start of the hard work. Next, you have to attract the attention of an agent/publisher and convince them that you're the next best thing since sliced bread. Rejection slips pile up and can be very demoralising, especially when there is no hint of constructive criticism to aid your attempts to improve your chances of getting that elusive publishing deal.

In light of that, is electronic self-publishing really to be dismissed so easily? And if it is the way to go, what does the future hold for traditional publishing methods?

On the one hand - yes, it's a way to get the 'work' out there and being read (and potentially earning money!!!) but on the other hand, is there a danger that this could ultimately lead to the demise of actual hold-in-your-hand-paper-and-print books?

.......and (playing Devil's Advocate, here) should that be a problem, really?

When you consider that books (as we know them, mass produced since the invention of the printing press) have been virtually the only form of portable written word for so long is it truly unthinkable that they may at some stage eventually become obsolete? Imagine the possibility that they could become 'collectors items' or only for 'enthusiasts? It'll never happen.....or will it?

Within 'my' lifetime reel-to-reel tape recorders and vinyl records have been superseded first by cassettes and now Cd's, which themselves are becoming replaced by download files and iPods. VHS has become obsolete in favour of DVD/BlueRay. Anologue broadcasting has become digital. It's called the march of progress.

'Books' have had it good for so long - is this 'eRevolution' really just evolution?

The bottom line is - if more people are likely to read via electronic means than by purchasing hardcopies (books) or borrowing from a library, should we be embracing technology in order to introduce people to the written word?

Most of us write to be 'read' (and we'd like to be paid for our talents!) but having to wait upon the whims of agents and publishers it can be tempting to 'go it alone' and get into electronic publishing.

I'm still undecided - yet, it would seem, for a lucky number of self-publishers the numbers do seem to stack up!


  1. Interesting point Sue. Someone we both know who is published once referred to E publishing as "the last gasp of a desperate author", and that's the way it's seen in the publishing world, apparently, but i'm not sure myself.
    You're right, it's a great way to get your work out there, but at what cost?
    The more people who Epublish, the smaller the deals will be for taking the traditional route as sales of E books increase and paper books go down.
    Personally, i prefer paper books anyway, but i'm concerned that with the libraries and bookshops rapidly disappearing, Ebooks might just hasten the process...

  2. Paper all the way and for all kinds of reasons! How's Matt Hilton going to personalise your copy of "Cut & Run" if it only comes out in electric form. Yes, authors can still make money using the self publishing ebook route BUT your writing becomes less "personal". Who's going to turn up to an ebook signing??

    "Will you sign this for me?"

    "What, the screen?"

    Makes no sense to me, Sue.

  3. 'Books' have had it good for so long - is this 'eRevolution' really just evolution?

    Absolutely, the eBook is just the next phase in the evolution of the written word. Now I don't own one and do not look to buy a Kindle or anything like it anytime soon but it is just too damn convenient not to accepted.

    With publishing costs going up it easy to see in a few years that it will be the main way new writers emerge. Actual printed books will not go away, it just that I see them reserved for established, sure thing, authors.

    In some ways its sucks but that's life.

  4. David - I, too, prefer to hold a book in my hands and feel the paper but my point with this post is that progress marches on. Will we, one day, find that it's no longer possible to track down physical books so easily? True it may yet be a long way off, but look how quickly video disappeared.......and how quickly we got used to DVD!

  5. Don't like e-only books, never will. But then, they're not meant for dinosaurs like me. They're meant for my granddaughter.
    (Though I can't imagine warming up to an e-book picture book.)

    I was approached online by two self published authors for reviews and I'm just not comfortable with the whole idea. Right now I'm not doing it. (On top of being self-published, they're electronic reads.) I don't own a kindle or nook or whatever and do not plan to. Don't like reading long texts on my computer screen. Oh sure, I can do it, I just don't want to.

    I'm sure there are some excellent self-published books, I've just never read any. At least, so far. You just never know, though.

    My daughter got a nook, so I'll certainly take a look at it. But I doubt I'll be charmed.

  6. Thanks for your views guys. I'm not overly fond of the idea of eReaders myself - I'm just concerned that they could take over and become the 'norm' as we stand 'Canute-like' trying to defy them!

  7. Video and DVD are still both young compared to real books. Books have been about for for liefimes. There's a library near me that has a book that's over 500 years old, written in Latin and originally published in France. That's history. I very much doubt an e-reader will hold as much esteem in 500 years time!

    My kids love books and my youngest especially loves them with pop-ups and lift up flaps that are part of the story. An e-reader with pop-ups and lift up flaps? Now that would be progress in the same realm as video and DVD.

    If people want to go down the self publishing e-book road then so be it. But let's face it, if our work is good enough then it's going to attract the attetion of an agent and publisher. And if not, just enjoy writing and reading......real books!

  8. Apologies for the typos. It's late and I should be asleep! ;-)

  9. I don't think paper books will ever go away, but with the recent closing of so many Borders book stores, you can see how e-publishing is affecting the evolution of books. I have Kindle and like it a lot more than I thought I would. I am a true book lover - I even like to smell them. :)

    I will always buy some authors in traditional hard back, if only to complete my collections. Some day, after books become obsolete and I'm long gone, our grandchildren might get rich selling off our complete set of Stephen King or James Patterson.

    (ps - thanks for stopping at my blog!)