In The Future People Will Run For Fun...
February 1, 2011
So says a very funny line by Doc in the first BACK TO THE FUTURE movie. As some of you may have noticed, publishing is a-changin'. For the better, for the worse, I dunno, but it clearly is. I'm not in the Joe Konrath Camp that says big publishing's toast. I still think there will be enough writers out there who benefit from what they have to offer, particularly in terms of marketing clout (when they're inclined to) and editorial services (when they're inclined to) that for a certain type of writer they'll still be the way to go.
That said, I'm fairly sure they won't be as large as they are now. The industry's contracting and the big companies, in particular, are getting hammered over the head by their overhead (like that?). Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a whole series on the midlist writer and changes in publishing on her blog and although I don't necessarily agree 100% with everything she says (that would be very unlike me), I think she lays out her arguments at least as persuasively as Joe Konrath does.
I honestly don't think anyone knows exactly what's going to happen in the next 5 to 10 years. I'm fairly certain you can kiss Borders goodbye (and that's a real bummer), and I have some doubts about the long-term future of any chain bookstore (and no, I don't like that at all; I love big bookstores and it's not like there are any indies nearby where I live). I suspect the prices of paper books are going to climb as more and more e-books get adopted by readers. That said, I prefer paper books for the most part, both for the reading experience and for the feel and as objects that I put on shelves in my house. I can glance over at my shelves and be reminded of hundreds of lives and people and experiences, something I don't really get flipping through the Home page of my Kindle.
I hope indie publishers continue to grow and publish writers. I hope people continue to read--I'm pretty sure they will.
On the upside, I think the e-book self-publishing trend is a good thing for writers from an artistic point of view and for many writers it's a positive thing from an economic point of view. I know that I can feel some real relief in working on a novel project these days knowing that if my agent can't place it somewhere I can then turn around and e-publish it myself. I no longer feel as if it's a gamble of my time. I'm not at the point yet like Joe Konrath and Lee Goldberg and Robert W. Walker where I'm considering just skipping the traditional route and going for the e-book route--I haven't made that kind of money yet, but if I do, I'm not sure I'd have a problem with it. I might really embrace that. Certainly I have at least two e-publishing projects planned for 2011 and possibly three. And by the way, I'm TOTALLY willing to have that happen, so why don't you run out and buy my e-books ASAP, 'kay?
So what do you guys think? What's the future of book publishing and writing for you?