RARA-AVIS: e-books/e-readers

From: Busted Flush Press (bustedflushpress@yahoo.com)
Date: 19 Dec 2009

  • Next message: Allan Guthrie: "Re: RARA-AVIS: e-books/e-readers"

    Hey, everyone!  I just wanted to offer my un-asked-for two cents worth on e-books (please, keep the change).  I'm David Thompson, publisher of Busted Flush Press, but also a 20-year veteran of Houston's Murder By The Book, one of the nation's oldest & largest bookstores.  First of all, I want to applaud each and every author on rara-avis, whether you're pubbed the traditional way or have gone the self-publish/self-print route... Just the fact that you want to write and want to share your stories is highly commendable. 

    First, my own personal thoughts on e-readers, as a booklover... um, I just don't get it.  Now don't get me wrong... I'm not a caveman... I love computers, I have an iPhone... and I understand e-readers are here to stay and that there are many people who love them.  I just don't get it, firstly, on an aesthetic level... personally, I need to hold a BOOK... I need the feel, smell, the entire tactile and visual experience of a printed book, from the cover to the text.  I work at the press's office usually from 5 to 8 a.m., then the bookstore from 8 a.m. to sometimes 8 or 9 p.m., if we have signings... and almost the entire time I'm on a computer... no matter how a computer screen makes an e-book "look like" words on paper, it's still a computer screen to me. 

    As far as the technology is concerned, well, I simply look at my Atari 2600, Sega Genesis, X-Box and PlayStation systems gathering dust... several hundred dollars spent on games that, at the time, oh absolutely, we got our money's worth playing... but they're historical artifacts now.  And yet our Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, and chess set can be brought out at any time and enjoyed.  The only way to keep up with today's gaming systems (or cell phones or notebook computers, etc.) is by spending another few hundred dollars every 2-3 years, for something that'll be absolete in another 2-3 years.  I can't imagine this won't happen with e-readers... I love the ability to be able to go into my study and look at my old Perry Mason paperbacks from the 1940s (SIXTY YEARS AGO) and can pick one up at any time, pop it in my back pocket, take it on a trip... and never need an upgrade or battery recharge. 

    And when I think of the future of e-books, especially in a world where anyone and everyone can (and are) make their books available in digital formats, I think of YouTube... God, what fun YouTube can be... last week I said to my wife that one of my favorite SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE skits was the REAL ending of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (where Dana Carvey as George Bailey leads a lynch mob to Phil Hartman's old-man Potter and beats the ever-living crap out of him)... and lo & behold, it was on YouTube!  Brilliant stuff.  However, have you ever spent a little bit of time on YouTube... woof!  How many people think they can sing???  Oh, dear Christ.  There are MILLIONS of videos out there... browse and you'll find ones that have been hit 5 times... and others have been hit MILLIONS (you gotta love that little panda sneezing... what an adorable bastard)... but it's all free.  In a few years, I imagine the e-book world will be like that... MILLIONS of
     offerings, but how do you find what's good? 

    What would excite me, if I had an e-reader, would be the ability to track down long out-of-print works by long-dead authors... I think that's fantastic.  But those are authors with established careers... they're authors you've heard about because they were (for example) of the pulp, Gold Medal days, and god, you've been looking for this book for forever.  I get THAT.  (Though, personally, that still wouldn't be enough to make buy an e-reader.)  But as far as new authors coming along, everything's going to lost in a blurry mess... except for those already making waves in the traditional publishing world.  

    Now, I'm not looking to change anyone's minds on e-readers... I've heard enough people talking about wonderful they believe e-readers are, and hey, more power to you!  But my concern is around the future of traditional publishing and traditional, brick-and-mortar stores -- where a lot of great new authors are discovered. 

      David Thompson Busted Flush Press, LLC P.O. Box 540594, Houston, TX  77254-0594 / (713) 942-9282 www.bustedflushpress.com / bustedflushpress.blogspot.com(BFP's blog) Twitter:  http://twitter.com/bustedflushpres Booksellers/librarians:  BFP books are distributed by Consortium(800-283-3572).

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