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Sunday, June 06, 2010

It seems the train has pulled out... where are we going?

For several weeks now I have been thinking about the future of the printed word as we know it.  As the weeks have gone by I have collected in my mind a spider web of sorts of related thoughts that have attached themselves or become caught-up in in my flow of thought. Some of these thoughts have been fueled by things I've heard on NPR or read elsewhere but they all seem to collide with the issue of where the electronic age we are in is taking publication of creative material.

It stared with feeling that perhaps this latest wave of ebook apparatus has perhaps been gaining traction.  I've watched with interest the pricing of electronic books themselves seem to hover for the most part at the $10 mark. Given materials for electronic books are (paper, ink binding) are non-existent, this leaves a larger profit margin to work with up front. So a traditional publisher who has the electronic rights has nearly no production costs.  You put together the artwork and set up the file and zing!  Oh, right, it still has to be marketed. They won't be seen on traditional bookshelves in stores unless they have a companion print edition.  They will need to be marketed  (thought pause) electronically! It seems that there really is little expenditure needed in this process, so my question is, "will this be a better deal financially for the writers or the publishers/distributors?"

The ultimate cost that these books settle into like anything else will adjust themselves based upon the market demand.If ebooks become the norm of future publishing this really could change the scope of the economics associated with earning a living as a writer. It could vastly improve it, but I tend to think that will not be universal. Certainly those who've made a name for themselves could adequately market their product without a distributor and many others will have to accept what margins publishers offer or battle for attention amid what is clearly going to be an abundance material as anyone will be able to publish.

Yet where this is leading economically, epubishing that is, is not the only aspect of this that is on my mind. A recent NPR piece called to question what impact the Internet and utilizing  electronic devices is having on our reading abilities. The Shallows': This is your brain Online offers some interesting questions about our  reading habits and comprehension. Are we so accustomed to the Internet with pop ups and scrolling, throw in e-mail and searches; that we are dumbing up our reading skills and comprehension. Because we can say something in 140 words or less doesn't mean it is the best way to communicate ideas.

I have a lot of questions and concerns about the future of print in our society. Answers I'm lacking.



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