As a published author, I've been following the demise of publishing (printed) opportunities with interest for several years now. But I don't care much for e-books. Perhaps its generational, but reading for long periods of time from a lighted screen just does not appeal to me. I prefer light descending from above and lighting the page, rather than ascending from behind the page and straining my eyes. I also prefer to hold books in my hand. I like to adorn the shelves of my office and home with books. Books have been very good friends of mine since I was a child. I shall not abandon them in their struggle to remain relevant.
But, I've experienced the impact of the internet age first hand. I was once a regular contributor to the Washington Times' weekly Civil War column. While it only paid me $125 per submission, it was a good outlet for my history passions and interests and the occasional checks provided some nice pocket money. But when the WT drastically downsized and laid off the column's editor, my relationship and submissions ended. The same story could be repeated with a couple of other publications for which I've written. Now comes this about Border's Books:
The chain's demise could speed the decline in sales of hardcover and paperback books as consumers increasingly turn to downloading electronic books or having physical books mailed to their doorsteps. "When you lose literally miles of bookshelves, it's going to have an impact," said David Young, chief executive of Lagardère SCA's Hachette Book Group, which Borders owed $36.9 million at the time of its bankruptcy filing. "I hope other retailers will now step up and make offers for what they consider to be the prime sites," Mr. Young said. "It's a tragedy Borders didn't make it through." The loss of Borders may also make it more difficult for new writers to be discovered. [More here.]In so many ways, the internet is the Gutenberg Press of the 21st century. Knowledge that was once limited to the ruling class and elites of society is now available to anyone with an Iphone and an internet connection. As Wikipedia correctly points out about Gutenberg's impact . . .
The relatively unrestricted circulation of information and (revolutionary) ideas transcended borders, captured the masses in the Reformation and threatened the power of political and religious authorities; the sharp increase in literacy broke the monopoly of the literate elite on education and learning and bolstered the emerging middle class. Across Europe, the increasing cultural self-awareness of its peoples led to the rise of proto-nationalismI believe that there are very few in society who have totally realized the societal and cultural impact of the internet revolution regarding the dissemination of knowledge and information. As I've noted here before, the "monopoly of the ruling elite", aka, much of academia and the ruling class, is showing signs of feeling the same way their soul mates felt at the dawn of the Reformation - threatened.
And yet, while I trumpet and champion the explosion of opportunities regarding the internet, blogging, and E-books; I admit being somewhat haunted by a whimsical yearning for the "old days" when print publishing was King. While I do not necessarily agree with the comment from the Borders column about new writers (it actually could be the opposite), one must admit that E-books, blogging, etc. have exponentially "democratized" writing and publishing and this has created an almost infinite amount of noise a writer must break through in order to get noticed - even good writers have this to contend with. But the market rules. And that's the way it should be.