Writer’s Digest blogger Jane Friedman posted an interesting bit today about the changing world of the writer (or would-be writer), and how the dream of “write your book, get it published, rinse and repeat” is changing, and needs to change, as books begin their transition from a primarily physical medium, to a primarily electronic one.
What was interesting wasn’t so much her actual post (which more or less was to say, “JUMP ON! And here’s what I think of the Kindle, iPhone, and iPad…”), although that was interesting too. What was really interesting was the bevy of links she included about the state of the industry and writer’s role in it. So at the risk of making a post that’s just a link to a post full of links (How meta can you get?), here are the ones that most caught my eye:
- Seth Godin: The Reality of Digital Content (Lose the Cookie, Lose the Fortune?)
- Mark Shatzkin: Why Are You for Killing Bookstores?
- Good Experience: Three Overlooked Lessons About the iPad
- Joe Mele: iPad Is the Google Killer
My own belief is that the book, i.e. leaves of paper bound with a cover, is not going away within any of our lifetimes. However, I do believe that it’s going to become more and more of a premium item. As time goes on and tablet-type devices become more ubiquitous, the books that will still be sold will tend more and more toward having features that the device simply can’t replicate, ranging from leather covers and gold leafing, to giant coffee-table editions of photo or art books.
Magazines, newspapers, and technical books? Yeah, they’re dead, just as dead as the Yellow Pages. But frankly I don’t consider that much of a loss. (EDIT: Let me clarify this … I don’t consider it a loss that magazines, newspapers, and technical books would convert to electronic format. That doesn’t mean I want them to die all together, and I don’t think they will, although in the case of newspapers and magazines I expect they’re going to end up basically as high-end blogs. Whether they can flourish in that form, is another story.)
I also suspect there may come a time when straight-up retail bookstores and used bookstores merge. Much like Amazon will sell you a new book for $30 or a used copy for $14.99, places like Powell’s may very well become the place to go for all of your physical reading media. Certainly if I were a distributor in particular, I’d be looking for new avenues, because there may come a time in the not-too-distant future when the Borders and B&N’s of the world become hard to find.
PS: Oh, and speaking of the iPad, I have a delivery date now! It’s hard to get any more “late April” than “April 30,” but in my heart of hearts, I always assumed that’s what it would end up being anyway.