Thursday, February 4, 2010

The death of printing

Everyone is getting in on the game. Email, texting, twitter, and facebook have replaced the courtesy of picking up the phone to speak in person. Why talk when you can reach for your blackberry and type away? Why personally ask to see someone to "catch-up" when you can post photos on facebook?

I'm old school. While everyone sends emails, I send letters. Instead of an impersonal e-card, I send a card to each and EVERY person. So it should not be surprising which side of the fence I'm on when it comes to books.

With the downfall of the music industry and growing concern for the film industry to halt piracy, the publishing industry is in the biggest danger of all. The film industry is launching 3D as their newest weapon against piracy (and it's a good idea since home 3D is crap), musicians earn their income from touring, but what about authors? It can take months to YEARS for writers to publish a decent novel, and it would be heartbreaking to see all their sweat and toil unrewarded. Unfortunately they will (and it has already started) become the EASIEST target to steal from with the onslaught of ebooks available on Amazon.

Raised on computers at a relatively young age, my eyes can glaze over print and absorb enough info with a quick downward scroll with relative ease. Yet there's something cheap and unsatisfying about reading a book from a screen. I can't even say, "ooh but it saves trees" because my only thought turns to the waste of energy it takes to power the LED screen. If you're fortunate enough to live in a town/city with a public library, used book store, or book trading club, reading need not be expensive.

Wired magazine recently discussed the pressure of Apple's new iPad launch as the catalyst of Amazon's move to push ebook pricing lower. Their argument that the $0.00 production cost of creating an ebook and the mere $3 higher price that the publishers are fighting for doesn't weigh against how many more books the $9.99 price would sell. No one stands to lose more than the writers themselves, and the publishers are standing their ground for all the money they spend to edit, advertise, market and launch their creative group.

Sadly, the snowball effect has already begun, and there's no stopping this train. Self publishing has opened the gate for amateur writers to flood the market, but is that a good thing? Readers left with too much choice will have to rely on recommendation lists, critics' reviews and word of mouth to wade through the growing possibilities.