The Digital Wolf is Huffing and Puffing

I’ve discovered two more voices warning about the digital wolf at traditional publishing’s door.  Passive Guy and through him, Dave Farland. Both of these guys are measured and reasoned in their approach. They make rational arguments that don’t seem (to me, at least) to be full of hyperbole or bombast.  They make powerful arguments in favor of transitioning to e-publishing sooner rather than later.

Make sure you read Farland’s post from May 11, 2011, “Weekly Kick — Perhaps the Most Important Kick You’ll Ever Read.”

I really like going into bookstores and thumbing through the books. It’s a pleasure deeply rooted in my soul.  But the information I’ve been reading lately is making me quite doubtful that the publishing landscape will look familiar ten years from now. The time lags built into the industry make me question whether it makes sense to contract with a company that may not remain viable long enough to edit, produce, and distribute my work. (Not all publishers will fail, of course.  Many will survive — but which ones?) Worse, the economic pressures on publishers and agents are apparently pushing some of them into ethically questionable practices.

I think a lot of us have seen ebooks as a good supplement to print publication — at least I did. The fact is, it’s a major format now, and growing.

Having grown up reading science-fiction I’ve read my share of post-apocalyptic stories.  If civilization falls and the power grid fails, our only source of knowledge will be paper books. Until that happens, though, it looks like ebooks are the future.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Digital Wolf is Huffing and Puffing

  1. There was a wonderful survivors type show on last year where participants were placed into deserted areas that had been damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The backstory was there had been a virus outbreak and those not infected were left to figure out how to survive. I forget the show’s name now. But I was thinking literally about what you said and IMNSHO, it would only mean a temporary pause in technology use. If for instance 5% of the population survived an apocalypse, we’d do what the participants in the show did… we’d create biofuel from the sources available to us and run generators by retrofitting existing machines to consume that makeshift fuel, make electric etc. …and get on with things. Once pockets of civilization formed making use of basic technologies, we’d access the existing libraries that were left through central locations, and eventually rebuild netoworks and continue on again. Granted this might take a few years, but I don’t think we’d suddenly throw all tech out the window even if there were only a small percentage of us left. We might simplify it though (what a nice concept!) so there’d be one ereader in use linked to the first networks to be rebuilt… assuming of course that we survived an apocalypse and that enough engineering minded geeks survived within the population to rebuild communications.

    • The show you’re thinking of was called Colony. It was the second iteration, and far inferior IMHO to the first season which took place in LA. It was way over-produced and obviously manipulated.

      Barring an EMP apocalypse, I think ebooks will eventually become the dominant form of distribution. Even with a more physical catastrophe like a virus that kills 90% of people, ebooks will still survive. At first paper books will be more useful as power may be sporadic, but with that many people gone printing and physical distribution of books will be a very low priority. After meeting basic survival needs, restoring power will be a high priority as will reestablishing communication via the internet. The problems would arise when the readers start breaking and there isn’t any high-tech manufacturing to replace or repair them.

      Can you tell that Alas Babylon by Pat Frank was one of my favorite books when I was a teenager? 🙂

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