Vanity, or Canny? Literary YouTube

The issue du jour in publishing: What’s happening to traditional controls on the industry? Digital technology has plunged us into an era where not only can anyone be a writer, you can be a “published author.” What does this forebode? Check out this video on the Wall Street Journal site and, for any actual readers out there, the story.

The lemmingesque rush to write and publish could well herald further social and cultural change to come. Soon there’ll be no readers, only writers, and no conventional publishers, only self-publishers. Dead agents in every ditch. What is this world coming to? Of course the Pollyannas will tell you that Socrates bemoaned what the written word was going to do to our native memories, while nearly 1,900 years later others foresaw Gutenberg’s printing press spelling the end to humankind as we knew it. Six hundred years after that, radio, it was said, would impoverish musicians who relied on paid live performances, and in recent years easily accessible digital music was supposed to put musicians and music publishers alike out of business. So adapt. Prepare yourself for the better world of reading and writing to come.

All that’s by way of preamble. You’ll now find my Kicking Dogs, which has seen three different royalty-paying publishers over the years, as an e-book available through Kindle. A print-on-demand edition will soon be available as well. Dogs is cheap: US$2.99 for the e-book, and $9.99 plus shipping for the print version.

There. That’s probably the last promotion I’ll ever do, and I can retire on the proceeds of my three sales. (It might have been four, but my mother passed away some years ago and no longer offers support.)

Cover drawing by Colin Cotterill. (Click on the cover for a better view.)

2 thoughts on “Vanity, or Canny? Literary YouTube”

  1. The more, the better. More books, more choice, more opportunities.

    And all these writers must do some reading, some time.

    And all real readers that I know still want physical, hard copy, holdable, smellable, paper artifacts.

    The digital versions are fine for a taste, an idea, or a sample in my opinion; then if one does like something, the real one is often sought out. Which is why the film industry, for example, despite its shock over the number of downloads of its products, had its best year ever in 2009.

    Sometimes only the “original” medium will do. (Not that there’s any stopping the cyber versions anyway.)

    • I hope you’re right. But some people reckon print books will soon become a niche market, something for collectors and eccentrics. Have a read of Shatzkin’s forecasts, e.g. (URL in the above post). The real worry is that few people will read anything extended, whatever medium you present it in. In any case, far more authoritatively than I could, Shatzkin, a respected industry insider, proffers a pretty comprehensive look at near-term and longer-term futures in the publishing industry.

      I agree that the smell of a book is important, at least to dinosaurs such as us. My Kindle DX smells like leather (unsurprising, its cover being of leather).

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