RARA-AVIS: Re: nuts to the feel of a real book

From: davezeltserman (Dave.Zeltserman@gmail.com)
Date: 20 Dec 2009

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    --- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "Frederick Zackel" <fzackel@...> wrote:
    > Geez, I get tired listening to that yawp!
    > Ya think folks will stop buying real leather-bound (oops, cardboard-bound)
    > books because e-readers pop up?
    > Ever heard of an audio book? OMG!!! It's not a book! It's a tape! It's
    > not a book at all!!!!
    > Go ahead and drive from D'Etroit (that French city by Canada) down to Miami
    > on I-75 and read a book the whole way. Or go getcha a tape or CD of Elmore
    > Leonard's story being read by Nicole Kidman and listen down the road.
    > We buy Elmore Leonard's story. The container for that story could be some
    > raggedy-ass paperback we find ina garbage can behind Macy's, or some flash
    > drive, or a floppy disk, or a hard drive, or a stack of pretty white typing
    > paper, or a fancy-dan custom-made genuine tailor-made ostrich-skin audio
    > book.
    > We buy the story. The container just keeps the words from spilling out on
    > the bleeding floor!
    > I got lots of books. I got so many books that i stick them in cardboard
    > boxes and forget I even got them. I buy duplicates to books I already got
    > because I forgot I bought them before. I give full grocery bags of real
    > books to my library. I keep books, too. I got Megan Abbott's autograph on
    > one of hers, a Bob Crais autographed book, even a Ross Macdonald book he
    > signed. I also go to the library, sit in a chair and read a book and never
    > take it out -- just leave it behind for the next guy.
    > The story. That's what's important. The story.
    > The first story GILGAMESH was carved on stone. Stone was its container.
    > OMG, I can read GILGAMESH on my computer! The monitor ... must be the
    > container. (Huh?)
    > An e-reader is a new type of container. Like ... papyrus.
    > You know, they got this new-fangled thing called radio. Why, I bet, once
    > radio gets e-stablished, folks will stop going to the movie houses, and
    > nobody will ever see AVATAR once it comes out.
    > Get a grip, guys. There is no apocalypse. Stories are not going away.
    > And if a writer can make $2.58 on a story that's been sitting on his
    > hard-drive for ten years, fantastic!
    > Why, that's two pieces of toast and a cup of coffee at Panera! He can sit
    > there and write another story.
    > Fred Zackel

    Fred, the problem is it may not be possible for the two to co-exist. 10 years ago there were 5900 independent bookstores in this country, now there are 1200. We've also lost half the chain stores. And guess what--bookstores are still closing, just read a blogger today writing about how the last 2 bookstores in Springfield, Ohio are closing. It's actually pretty simple--if enough people move to e-readers where the remaining bookstores lose enough customers where they have to close, then we got no more brick & mortar bookstores. And guess what happens as bookstores close--other than the fact that more readers will feel compelled to move e-readers that they didn't really want want--the publishers (both independent and corporate) who depend on these bookstores either shutdown or scale back dramatically. John Grisham and others have also been making these same (to me obvious) observations--that a minority of people moving to ereaders could force everyone to move ereaders as bookstores close.

    So it's all fine and good to make the obvious observations that e-readers are just another container without attempting to look forward and see what all this could leads. They definitely have the corporate publishers worried--read some of the end of year statements from Simon & Shuster and others about the challenges that they're seeing.

    Anyway, I'm sick of pointing out the obvious. In a very short time (probably next 3-5 years) we'll have a good idea where all this is heading, and nothing I or Fred or anyone else writes is going to change a damn thing, so this will be my last post on the subject. I need to instead focus my efforts on either breaking into film (I've got my chances, one project in development, another producer trying to get another project going, and am working with a Hollywood agent on some other projects) or becoming one of those better known names so I can be one of the few authors still selling books when the apocalypse comes.


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