With the explosion of ebooks, both readers and writers ask the big question: What is the future of books? What about die-hard book lovers, me among them? I adore my books. I highlight passages, re-read sections, flag my favorite parts. I love the smell of books, the feel—and I like the way they look on my shelves. And stacked on my nightstand, next to my desk, on tables…
Some people are completely at home with the computer age and prefer to read on a screen. They love the many aspects of ereaders, including the convenience of hundreds of books, newspapers, magazines—not to mention the ability to hyper-link to further information—all on one slim gizmo. Personally, the thought of carrying 500 books in my purse is awfully tempting, especially while traveling. But I’m waiting while the price comes down and all the kinks are worked out. I don’t want to get caught with the Betamax of our times. Besides, being a non-techie, I have a duty to be appropriately suspicious.
Ebooks are not going to disappear. With Kindles, iPads, Nooks and others looking more like pages and less like computer screens, ereaders are growing in popularity.
It’s obvious the publishing industry is not yet sure how to deal with ebooks. Agents and editors, normally the gatekeepers of the industry, will have to find their place in this brave new world as electronic publishing becomes more of a player. Everything is up for grabs at the moment, including negotiating for electronic rights and royalties. Bestselling authors and their agents are aware they are paving the way for future writers.
One thing is certain; ebooks are a huge opportunity to reach more readers. Another thing is certain; there absolutely is a point to submitting to agents and publishers. Printed books have the most readers and will continue to do so for awhile. Remember Guttenberg’s printing press? (Of course I mean figuratively unless you are over 500 years old.) He revolutionized the access to and delivery of information, increasing the number of those who read, but not overnight. In fact, it was several decades before his crazy invention became widespread.
The publishing industry is not dead. It’s just changing. It still remains to be seen how many and what other options will be available for writers. The good news for readers is this: as the industry progresses, ereaders will come down in price, technology will increase the quality, and more books will become available for less money. While formats change, opportunities grow, even options to do business in different and new ways. The good news for writers and authors is that while the industry is trying to figure out their end of things—including how to stay relevant—one thing remains consistent. Words on a page are the same as the words on the screen. Someone has to write them.
My final thoughts on the whole publishing industry revolution is to keep forging ahead. Keep writing and improving. Keep investigating new ways to get your written words out there. Make informed decisions. Keep submitting. Above all, believe in your writing. Books have a future. As far as the delivery system, it remains to be seen. But one thing doesn’t. Someone has to write the books. And that’s us, folks!