A to Z Challenge 2013

Monday, August 22, 2011

Blog Chain - The Mountain's Shaking

The fact that today's blog chain entry is a day late is just one more sign that I'm taking on too much these days and need a break.  I'll have more on that in another post momentarily, but right now it's time to get back on the blog chain.  That's right, we're back and we have a number of new members.  If you're a longtime reader of our chain, you'll find something new in the contributions of Matt, Tere, Jon, Katrina, PK, and Amparo.  I love it when we get new members (though of course I miss the people who have left) because I get to learn more about writing from their different perspectives.  And it's amazing how many different perspectives we can have on a given subject.

Anyway, I'm rambling so let's get to it.  Today's question is brought to you by the letter S, or more specifically that awesome writer Sandra who asks:

Have the recent changes in the publishing industry affected your writing plans/career? If so, how?

Part of me always cringes when fellow writers talk about the publishing industry, but maybe not because of the reason you might think.  Since I'm still in what I consider the infancy of my writing career (i.e. I'm still learning how to write decently enough), the publishing industry is like Mount Everest.  It's an awesome spectacle, a challenge that beckons at the same time it daunts, and the summit is the goal of publication.  But it's over in China.   In other words, for me publication is this far off idea that is really too massive for me to grasp yet.  I know some day I'd like to say I have seen Everest up close and conquered it, but right now I'm really just looking at pictures of it while I try to walk up to the top of my block.

Having said that, it doesn't mean I don't watch and think about the industry and the changes I see.  I do recognize the potential for books to become less available in print than in electronic form.  It makes sense from a financial perspective since it's generally cheaper to mass produce at that point (Hey music industry I'm looking at you.  It don't cost you $20 to burn a CD anymore, ya crooks).  And of late, I have seen the usefulness of an e-reader, particularly as I read my school assignments via one.  Not having to purchase and wait for a physical textbook isn't such a bad thing.  For one, I don't have it sitting on a shelf collecting dust after I pass the class.

Taking a step away from the reader's perspective (and putting on my writer's hat), I consider any changes the publishing industry make that helps get my book into the hands of readers a (potentially) good thing.  Yes, it is an incredibly sad thing whenever a book store has to close (not to mention a whole chain).  It is a huge loss in a lot of ways.  But the world does continue to change and unfortunately we all have to either change with it or step off the ride.

I do not believe printed books will ever go away completely.  I compare it to vinyl records (those black round things with the hole in the middle that magically plays music.  Now get off my lawn, ya punks!)  There are and always will be people that enjoy the experience of holding and reading a physical book.  One can become even more immersed in the experience than when playing those old vinyl discs because of the multiple senses a book engages (touch, sight, smell, etc).  For this reason, I don't think book stores will ever completely disappear either, any more than record stores have.

With regards to what this means to my writing career, I don't think there is any real effect right now.  I still plan on becoming a fully-fledged author someday.  The method or mode for how I get there is irrelevant, and if it means I have to adjust my thinking at some point to encompass all paths, I'm okay with that.  I guess the bottom line is that I'm not entrenched into thinking there is only one way to reach Everest's summit.   And that's okay.  Because right now, it's still just some huge awesome mountain in China.

Michelle H. was before me on the chain, so she may have more to add.  And following me, the ever-talented Michelle M. should have something interesting to say on the subject.  

How about the rest of you?  What do you think about the changes on the publishing horizon?  And how do you plan to deal with it?


Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

I think flexibility is key to climbing any mountain. But you might want to double-check where that mountain is. ;)

Michelle McLean said...

ahh I'm one of those that will always love the real deal...even though I do own a Nook and love reading books on it (and have two books available in eformat lol). I still have 7 bookshelves overflowing with books in my house, and happily look forward to the day when I can own a house that has a full-fledged library, with wall to wall bookshelves in it :D

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

I think the record analogy is really great. There is something about a the sound of a record that is just really wonderful and that an MP3 cannot compete with. And it is the same with a physical book vs. an ebook. That doesn't mean we can't have both, it just means we can choose which best suits us from one moment to the next.

Michelle H. said...

That's it in a nutshell. Physically holding a book or digitally holding a book. Seems we have choices, so long as nobody takes them away.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

I'm with you on walking down the block with a picture of Mt. Everest! LOL. Great metaphor for the beginning of the writing career. A lot of this is still in the abstract for me, too. I see my friends dealing with these big questions but I'm just not there yet.

And yeah, my nook is awesomesauce. But I definitely don't plan to give up my physical book collection (which takes up an entire wall in my living room) any time soon. *insert morbid reference to my cold, dead fingers*

Great post, Eric!! And thanks for the warm welcome.

Eric said...

Sandra - LOL, okay Sandra. A mere technicality ;)

Michelle M. - Yeah, though I slowly embracing some e-texts, I do still enjoy a good physical book.

Kate - Exactly. The record analogy is what I always think about when this subject comes up because while they may not be perfect, at least the publishing industry is trying to change with the times (albeit slowly).

Michelle H - Great point. It really doesn't matter as long as we keep having access to books.

Katrina - Thank you and I hope you have as much fun on the chain as I do. We got some great people here :)

Jonathon Arntson said...

Eric - Your analogy is strong and proves you're beyond "the infancy of my writing career".

Keep on keeping on! And thanks for the welcome to the blog chain. I am just now getting caught up on commenting.

Eric said...

Jonathon - Thank you. I have to do some catching up myself today :)

Abby Annis said...

I hope you're right about the book stores never going away. I'll be so sad if there comes a day when I can't go and browse through the books before buying. Great post! :)

Matthew MacNish said...

That was a great metaphor, Eric! Mount Everest indeed. I feel much the same, myself.

Shaun Hutchinson said...

That is well said, Eric. I think it's important to keep one eye on the publishing world and the other on the work. People are going to continue reading books. The way in which they read them might change, but they'll still read them.