Be thankful we’re not in the music industry

Recently I spent an evening with a friend who’s a true American music icon, a man who made a fortune as a singer/songwriter.  We got to talking about our respective industries, and he said, “I’m grateful I had a career when I did.  I couldn’t make it today.”  The digital age, he said, has ruined the chances for any new musician to get as wealthy as he did.  He made his money as a recording artist.  Now anyone can download a song, thereby sucking the lifeblood from musicians.  “The most talented songwriter in the world will fail today,” he said.  “Why pay for a CD when you can get the music free off the internet?”

An article in today’s news backs him up.  Associated Press reports that U.S. album sales have fallen 9.5 percent in the last year.

“The only way to get rich nowadays,” my friend said, “is to look hot and sexy on a music video.”  It’s not real musicians who get the big bucks these days; it’s the talentless eye candy.  

He’s already made his fame and fortune so he’s not bitter; he’s simply being realistic — and sadly pessimistic — about what lies ahead for songwriters.  “If a truly talented musician came to me for advice about the industry,” he said, “I’d tell him that the best thing he could do is get the hell out.”

The digital age has indeed been a disaster for singers and songwriters because what they produce is so easily stolen and reproduced.  And as bandwidth and download speeds increase, making videos easier to steal, the movie industry will be suffering next.

But oddly enough, novelists don’t seem to be in that perilous situation because of one simple fact: no one has yet improved upon the sheer readability of a real book.  I know that the e-book was supposed to revolutionize the industry but so far it hasn’t.  I also know that the downoads of my books remain a tiny fraction of my sales.  The vast majority of readers still prefer (as I do) the feel of a real book with real printed pages.  Something that we can bring to the beach, drop in the bathwater, and stuff into our pockets.  Something that doesn’t require batteries, that’s cheap enough to toss once we’ve finished reading it.

Has there ever been a more perfect entertainment device?

The current format of the book was invented over two thousand years ago.  According to Pliny (who’s not always reliable, I should warn you) the bound book (also known as a codex) became popular during a feud between the two rival libraries of Alexandria and Pergamum.  Up till that time, the papyrus scroll was the predominant form of recorded text, and the great library of Alexandria was the keeper of the greatest collection in the world.  When Eumenes of Pergamum tried to build just as magnificent a collection, Egypt responded by halting all exports of papyrus.  In response, Pergamum was forced to use vellum pages, made from animal skins. 

And thus the bound book was born.  Except for the materials used in its manufacture, it hasn’t really changed since then.

That is an astonishing thing to contemplate.  How many other inventions (other than the wheel) can we point to as being so perfect they remain essentially unchanged for two millenia? 

For the moment, our industry is safe.  People will continue to buy books because there’s no easier way to read a story.  They’re portable, they’re relatively cheap, and they’re user friendly.  The batteries never run out.

Let’s just hope we never run out of readers.

24 replies
  1. Kyle K.
    Kyle K. says:

    What are you saying about dropping books in bath water and throwing them out when we’re done reading them?! Blasphemy!

    You know what? Ever since I got an iPod, I always buy music. Always. Even before that, I would always buy a CD (I’m guilty of sampling music online back then, but I would buy the physical CD if I liked the songs). They worked hard to produce the songs, and they deserve the compensation. And it’s really a shame that so many people are taking advantage of the technology loophole that allows them to get the free music.

    And I HATE those portable ebook readers. Every time I go to Amazon I get bombarded with ads for their new Kindle machine, and it annoys the hell out of me. I am a tech buff, but that is one piece of equipment I will definitely never own. Thank GOD our audience still has good sense…!

    I’ve always had dreams of owning a library like the one in the Beauty and the Beast cartoon… Why would I ever want to settle for a little screen?

  2. Craig
    Craig says:

    Well, I may be stepping on some toes here but what the heck. There is a place for electronic books–textbooks especially–but nothing can replace a “physical book”, especially a lavishly illustrated one. There is no substitute–check out the Books of Wonder reprints of the L. Frank Baum Oz books for example.

    Now as far as the music industry goes, they did it to themselves. I worked in a new/used record store for over a decade and witnessed first hand the greed of the record companies. In the early days of the CD they came in those stupid long cardboard boxes which essentially were trash. Say what you will about the LP you didn’t throw away the LP cover. Consumers such as myself hollered at the useless waste and the record companies finally acquiesced with the promise that the savings would be passed onto the consumer. Well, it wasn’t and they even jacked the price up of CDs to the extent that they invited illegal downloading. I do not download anything illegally. I do not condone it. I wait until the CD makes it to the used bin and buy it for half price and the artist gets nothing thanks to the greed of the record companies. I have no problem nor do I disagree with anything that you said, especially about the “candy”. All the major record companies are run by accountants who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. The best suggestion I can come up with is to tell aspiring artists to sell their own CDs at their performances and hope for the best. Not very good advice, is it?

  3. therese
    therese says:

    I remember a story about the new digital CD’s and the sound quality was presented to the record companies – who weren’t interested. Why mess with their industry?

    But the inventor wasn’t content and took his new discs and speakers to the musicians and they were so thrilled, the quality was awesome! It was the musicians that pushed for transforming the music industry to what it is today and having a very sensitive ear for music, I appreciate it but know, most people who love listening to their music don’t really understand all the layers of tonal perfection.

    Along the same vein, all that was available when I first started writing was a typewriter and I wasn’t an accurate typist, so I’d hit the wrong key and look at that letter wondering, what word could I use instead of correcting that mistake?

    While the digital age hasn’t transformed the book industry yet on the reader side, it has on the writer side. Good writers who will labor over their work are now required to become marketing guru’s to stand out from a bigger slush pile of writers who submit without even a spell check. The digital age has also offered lots of splash and dash entertainment to distract readers from the power of a good story.

    I think this trend will shift again and readers will really want that esoteric connection of flipping pages for the story of a wonderful writer. Unfortunately I’m not sure it will be the same for songwriters. This will create a huge hole in the music industry or bring about a rebirth of ‘real’ music with harmonies and full orchestras.

    Song writers may not have an easy time of it, but they are still compelled to touch the soul of their listeners with their music. If they are only in it for the fame and money, like writers who enter the publishing world for those reasons, failure will ensue.

    I know I am fortunate to not worry whether the book or CD I want was is in the bargain bin. Yet I always check those bargain bins in case there is something I had forgotten I wanted. All of us artists, whether with words, music or paints, are not the most organized and practical shoppers. We are blessed because we understand the art in whatever industry and appreciate what we purchase.

    So those of us, in no matter what artistic endeavour, that are bullheaded enough to keep doing it, and learn our market and industry, still can defeat the naysayers of failure. Even the ones in our own mind.

  4. Felicia Donovan
    Felicia Donovan says:

    All my life, my heart has quickened upon entering a bookstore or a library. The possibilities those books present brings me joy – the excitement of knowing I can travel to new lands and meet new characters, the beauty of one colorful cover snugged up against the other, even the little “crack” sound the spine makes when a new book is opened for the very first time – these are all part of the emotional connection readers have to books that no ebook can ever reproduce.

    If you read my books you know I’m all for technological advances, but I still want that floor to ceiling library filled with classics and contemporaries, a pot of hot tea steeping, a crackling fireplace, comfy leather sofas and a few dogs resting at my feet. You can’t digitize that.

    Felicia Donovan
    THE BLACK WIDOW AGENCY
    http://www.feliciadonovan.com

  5. CD1
    CD1 says:

    Hi everyone. I certainly can relate to all of your sentiments about digital music, and I too love the smell of a new book, but I do wonder if digital technology will one day change the way books are published.

    The rock group Radiohead put out their latest CD in 2007 only on their own website, with users able to download the content for free and then pay whatever price they think the music is worth–the downloader sets the value! The group makes all the money directly, cutting out the agent, the recording company, the retailer, and any other “middle man” in the process. If they were, contractually, getting, say, $3 per CD on their past CDs, they’d have only to make that much on average from each “sale” of their 2007 CD to do as well. Anyhting more is a bonus. Certainly, they are an established group and it would be much harder for a “breakout” new band to do similarly, but with myspace and youtube, it is not totally implausible that a newbie will do the same. The recording industry is changing, as the Eagles show by retailing their two-disc Eden set only at Wal-mart.

    How does this relate to publishing? Words and text are even more convenient for downloading than music or movies. One could, as happened to Rowling with the recent Harry Potter book, copy an entire book to the internet. Or an iPod or Kindle. It’s just digital “dots and dashes”. I, as a writer, find it unsettling that digital theft is stealing from all arts. The future of writing will likely fall increasingly to blogs, internet publishing, and digital downloads. Although bound matter will not go away, digital publishing will become increasingly a factor in distribution of well-authored material like that of Ms. Gerritsen, and unfortunately, of poor content as well. Plenty of poor content. The key will be trying to separate the wheat from the chaffe in the overload of information.

  6. Craig
    Craig says:

    I want to make several other points here. First, the musicians may have been pushing for the CD but it was the consumer that turned the music industry on its so-called ear about it. The record plants used their masters to press far more vinyl LPs than they should have (greed again) and the sound on some LPs in the early 80’s was absolutely abysmal. Stereo sound systems were going high tech and the LP simply couldn’t keep up. I remember returning four copies of one LP because the surface noise was drowning out the music. We consumers had absolutely had it with the current state of affairs and I daresay the record stores got tired off all of the returns. It was consumer demand that brought the CD to the spotlight. My first encounter with the CD was in a local electronics store in 1981. The player $1000 price tag on it and I remember the sales person saying that this was the upcoming thing. The only discs available at that time were a few classical pieces. When the CD players hit the store, and I’ve owned at least one player since 1983, not one pressing plant in this country was geared up to press CDs. All the discs were imports, mostly England, Germany, and Japan, though I did pick up a few from Holland. The truth is the stateside record companies didn’t see this coming and it took them years to completely switch over.

    The other point I want to make is that in my case, I can only be on a computer for an hour or so before I start getting a headache. I don’t have that problem with books. The CD was a marked improvement over the LP but I don’t see how the e-book can make the same claim over the book, though it certainly has its uses.

    Sadly, there are no independent retail music stores in the Oklahoma City area; they’re all chains. I buy almost all of my music online. We still have two marvelous independent bookstores, one of which has been my home now for over 10 years.

    But going back to the original point made by Tess, I have a cousin who recorded two jazz CDs and they are lovely. She even got Amazon to carry them but she’s gone on to other things now and I don’t know if she ever broke even. I sincerely doubt that she’ll release a third and that is sad.

  7. tuttle
    tuttle says:

    I could be considered quite broke by all normal standards.
    I take home less than 16,000 a year and yet when a favorite author or musician releases new book or CD I still go out and buy the hardcover or buy the CD. (well, not as often but I still do it)
    Just trying to do my share of paying for my entertainment though official channels.

    Though I have to admit things are getting tight for me so many times I am forced to use the ‘used book’ section of amazon or alibris books.
    Or I simply wait for the paperback.
    Or if a buddy offers me a dowloaded film I’ll watch it.

    Thanks to iTunes I can sample each track from an album or soundtrack and I WILL buy each track for 99 cents off there.

    Steve Jobs was right—most people WILL go out and BUY their music IF its reasonably priced.

    I know dozens of people at my job who download music and films and feel no guilt at all. They are good folks of course but with the economic situation AND the technology being the way it is–they still love their music and films so they just —‘take it’

    We are living through a true shake up period in the entertainment industry (what with the HD and Blue Ray war still going on) and it will be very interesting to see how it all shakes out in a few years.

    Perhaps if the greedy corporation would have sold the CD’s at a more reasonable price (15.99 for 9 songs (plus a full color booklet with lyrics– ohhhhhhh I’m so excited) and if the studios would have put all of that bonus extra features for the movies ON ONE DISC instead of forcing us to buy ‘two’ for a higher price (special edition and directors cut and 10th 20th and 30th special anniversary editions……)they may still be having somewhat healthier bottom lines while they struggle through this shake up–the irony is that the consumer has caught on to the fact they been overcharged all this time and with this techno loophole they can just go around the official channeles and still get their entertainment fix.

    (Though I still prefer official film DVDs with the crisp picture and quality soundtrack but most people dont seem to mind the shaky picture and bad sound and the fact that occassioanlly someone will walkin front of the screen to go to buy more popcorn—as long as you can see the new Adam Sandler film (while its still in the theater) whats the harm right? Still, wrong is wrong.)
    (when I get offered a film or two to watch on bootlegs I notice that you can actually get up to FIVE films on the disc. That means they can CERTAINLY squeeze all those bonus features on the ONE disc and only charge 9.95 and STILL make some good cashflow on that all important opening day/weekend at Wal Mart for themselves instead of charging 20 bucks or higher for a TWO DISC set. I mean, money is tight all around and many hundreds of thousands of people are just doing whats economically easier for them. (To have to make people pay 69 bucks for a boxed set of a favorite TV show when they can easily put everything on HALF the discs and just charge less than twenty bucks is just sheer greed.)

    And did you happen to notice at Wal Mart their suddenly selling multiple ‘double and triple features’????? I mean isnt it great you can get all three Harrison Ford Jack Ryan adventures for only 9.99 (too bad you’ve already paid full price for them and their now sitting on your bookshelf at home and if you try to resell or trade up them at some stores you’ll be lucky to make 3 bucks for each of them)

    Wow–Two and three films of your favorite actor on ONE DISC for the low low price of 9.99…such a deal!!

    Well now its a little late to be doing what should have been done for the consumer the whole time. The irony (I should think) is that if the film studios would have stuffed a single disc with everything they could the whole time instead over charging us they might have been making even MORE money

    Sorry about the off topic journey to films but tess is correct….its so fortunate for us authors and readers that books are alot tougher to steal than most other entertainment.

  8. CD1
    CD1 says:

    “Sorry about the off topic journey to films but tess is correct….its so fortunate for us authors and readers that books are alot tougher to steal than most other entertainment.”

    Not to be flip, but I just “stole” your words in about 5 seconds with cut/paste, tuttle.

    Music is harder to steal than words. Laws protect authors better than muscians. If one copied all of a new novel on the internet, it’d be clearly copyright infringement. If one downloaded a song to the internet by “file sharing”, it’d be very hard to defend and obtain corrective action against the thief.

    My opinion is that consumers indeed like “hard copy”, hwther it be a book or a CD or a DVD. It’s easier to pay $10 for a CD and have it in hand than it is to pay $8 for same CD downloaded and, with one power outtage (like Updikes great short story in the The New Yorker this week), the whole purchase is–poof–gone. That said, when the music industry fragments songs, build hits rather than bands, builds one-hit-wonders rather than franchises, people will indeed be willing to pay 99 cents for a piece of the whole.

    It’s already been written that best-selling novels are typically written for a reader with a fifth grade reading level. Authors, me included, have to hope that the fragmentation and “sound bite” society does not dummy down the reader’s penchant for a finely written book.

    THis is an interesting topic. Thanks for blogging it, Tess.

    PS I am going to buy your new book, in hard cover, at Borders, the old-fashioned way.

  9. BernardL
    BernardL says:

    I enjoy reading a book; but the popularity of e-book downloads from places on the net like Elora’s Cave can’t be discounted. I believe the techno wizards will eventually make the hand-held reader a viable competitor to the bound book. The downloading phenomena will overtake the publishing world too. As already mentioned, fair pricing will help.

  10. Tatiana
    Tatiana says:

    I used to buy e-books if they were a better deal than the paper copy (in particular, Star Trek ebooks were $0.99-$2.99 a few years ago). I will not buy an e-book that is priced the same as the paper copy because I think the pricing is dishonest:
    -there are no storage costs
    -there are no returns or remainders
    -there are no printing costs
    -distribution costs are minimal

    The other reason that ebooks should cost less than their printed counterparts are that they offer less value than printed books:
    -they cannot be lent, traded, or exchanged
    -they cannot be handed down to other generations or even survive the move to a new computer or operating system.
    -they are designed to be fleeting and disposable

    Elora’s cave ebooks are popular because the books filled an underserved readership and were not available in any other format for a long time (though now bookstores are selling paper copies of some Elora’s Cave books). They have the advantage of starting as an ebook seller and moving into print instead of trying to do it the other way around.

  11. ScottH
    ScottH says:

    Sorry to go slightly against the flow, but… my lifestyle dictates that I don’t get nearly enough time to read, but get a lot of time in my car, so the downloading of books in audio format or being able to buy them on CD has been a fantastic way of keeping on top of all the books I want to get through. In fact, I have never actually ‘read’ one of Tess’ books, but do own the majority in audio.

    My plea and frustration is twofold: not enough books are put onto audio (an understandably commercial decision, I guess) and that they often take longer to be published in this format. In the same way as downloadable music, more audio books means a greater ability to rip off the authors, but echoing the point already made is that nothing will replace the relaxation of sitting down for hours at a time absorbed in a book. We now just need books to come with a nice glass of wine and the picture is complete!

  12. drosdelnoch
    drosdelnoch says:

    To be honest I like the feel of books in my hand. You cant get an ebook signed and to be honest would you really need an author to tour with this format (the ebook)?

    I can understand perhaps using the ebook format for schoolbooks for kids, however its the readers that perhaps put this option out of the reach of many. When they have a more affordable one say around £40 then they might take off a bit more. The brightside of the ebook would mean that writers could bypass the publisher and make the money directly by offering it online. But that would require a whole other means of marketing to sell yourself.

    Its a tricky situation to be honest but I dont think books will go the way of the dodo at all. Too many people prefer the format. Plus theres no budget on imagination unlike films. We get to see the scene exactly as we want as well as to imagine the characters. Ask a selection of fans to say describe who they would case of Maura and you’ll get a whole different set of answers.

    Music wise cost is perhaps the biggest concern of the purchaser. Yep the cost of CD’s was extortionate yet now theyve come down and with the Supermarket wars the prices are cheaper than recommended. Taking out the requirement for shelfspace and low cost web hosting makes it even cheaper for E Dealers. So thats why a number prefer this format, plus with computers getting ridiculous HD space these days, it wont be long until we can all afford to have nearly every track ever released on one system and still have space to play with.

    Its a tricky situation to be honest but theres numerous ways to face each problem to effectively counter it. Writing is something that has changed, as has been mentioned at one time it was longhand, then it had the typing option and now we have the word processor so that we can delete errors, we dont have to be so careful with each word and can erradicate the extra’s or those that dont fit in with the whole scene. It allows I think a greater freedom for the creator and as such can only benefit the process in the long run. Each to their own though.

  13. joe bernstein
    joe bernstein says:

    intellectual property is as real as a patent-if i want to listen to music i either turn on the radio or buy a cd from amazon-stealing by digital means is no better than shoplifting-and i own not an iota of intellectual property-i just believe what’s right is right-on the other hand,the used book business is honorable-it’s been bought once and there are no more royalties to be had

  14. CD1
    CD1 says:

    Tess Wrote: “People will continue to buy books because there’s no easier way to read a story. They’re portable, they’re relatively cheap, and they’re user friendly.”

    I have written above some thoughts, and I have just been turned on to the Amazon Kindle. Tess’ new book, $9.99. Instantly downloded via cell phone service for free (not wi-fi). The iPod for treaders! I ecourage tose who have blogged here to consider a review of this product first on Amazon.com, and then on youtube.com for many videso. In particular, there is a 50 minute Charlie Rose-November 2007 interviw with Jeff BEzos and it is very informative. Too many features of the Kindle to write here. Amazon keeps your “library” forever, built-in dictionary and wikipedia (I’m a wikipedia addict), et cetera. Digitized books. Hope will not allow “file sharing”, but you know some hack out there somewhere will come up with something.

    I pray that it will not come to pass, but the plight of Tess’ musician friend may come to the venerable author in the not too distant future.

    So, unlike my post above, I will be reading Tess’ latest book digitized; one never forgets the first time). When the Kindle arrives (it is backordered, as it is selling like cupie dolls at the county fair), I’ll read Tess’ novel nd let you all know my thoughts.

    A convert? Perhaps. CD1 cooldoctor1

  15. Cherlyn
    Cherlyn says:

    There’s something about the feel of a book to me. I never got excited about ebooks. Now, I do purchase audio books, but I keep them in my car to listen to while I’m driving. At home or elsewhere, I like keeping a physical book on hand, even though I have devices to electronically read. It’s just not the same somehow. I don’t know what I would do if books successfully went nearly completely electronic.

  16. dustinhood
    dustinhood says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. As a young reader, I will never buy a so-called e-book. I do purchase or rent the occasional audiobook, but that’s only to help me read the book I’m struggeling to finish. I plan on buying bound books until the day I die. Besides, how could I get the author to sign my “e-book”? Thanks for all the great reads!

    Dustin

  17. knaster
    knaster says:

    Hi Tess,

    Does anyone remember Teddy Ruxpin who was a little bear with a microchip that would read stories to little children? Kids didn’t need to pick up a book. Now with e-books and books on tape or CD, why do we need to pick up a book? Why? I’ll tell you. There is no greater thrill than buying a fresh copy of an author’s book and physically reading it. Listening on tape or CD is fine in the care, but do you really pay attention or should you be watching the road?
    E-books are fine, but do you really want to spend all that time on the computer, and how do you know you’re not getting an abridged version?
    Getting off you ass and walking into a bookstore to buy a book can give you the time to peruse the shelves looking for your favorite author (is there someone else beside Tess?), or to work your way up and down the shelves. Then you can crawl into bed on a cold wintry night and let the book take your imagination places.
    As per the music industry, sites like Napster have taken away from the musician. Downloading a song for a price does nothing to boost the morale of the musician. They lose money. Again, the thought of walking into a store and looking through the vast array of CD’s (or tapes) gives you that feeling of “WOW! I haven’t heard so-and-so in a long time. I’ll buy it.”
    There is only one way to read the literary genius that is Tess Gerritsen. Buy her book, read it and wait for the next one. Everyone wants to be physically fit nowadays, but listening to a book or downloading a song ain’t gonna do it!
    Good luck on your UK tour, Tess! We love ya!
    Abe

  18. karren_campbell
    karren_campbell says:

    Maybe I’m too new age! Even though I’ve collected four book cases worth of books over the years, I’ve grown to enjoy the convenience of listening to a good book while I’m doing some other daily task. I’ve had a subscription to a site called Audible.com for almost three years. It’s easy to download and sync audiobooks to many different mp3 players. And, it’s affordable. If, after listening to a book, I decide it was a really – REALLY – good read, I’ll buy the hard cover to add to my collection. Mrs. Gerritsen, your most recent work is already there!

    Thank you for a soul awakening novel!

    KC

  19. Susan Kelley
    Susan Kelley says:

    I feel bad for the musicians. Security issues have really been unable to keep with techno savy thieves. And the ebook industry has its own problems with illegal downloads though not on the same levels as the music world.
    I prefer a book in hand also, but I’m not going to say ‘never’ to the ebook readers. I have read ebooks on my computer and find that not comfortable or nearly as enjoyable as holding a paper edition in hand. But remember how bulky the first calculators were? How about the first cell phones? And do you all remember computers before laptops? I think it’s only a matter of time before a comfortable, enjoyable ebook reader is invented. The Kindle is a huge step with its download technology, and I would expect another leap forward within the next year. So I take caution with saying ‘never’ though I can say they have to make the ebook readers more affordable and the publishing industry have to make the ebooks reasonably priced compared to print books.

  20. CD1
    CD1 says:

    I think e-reading of all types will, as the reading devices advance (the Kindle being the first giant step forward, agreed)overtake printed matter within the next ten years. Some might argue five years. Will it substitute totally for printed matter? No. There are still feather pens and fountain pens in use worldwide. But most now prefer the disposable ink cartridge so that the ugly ink stains in our shirt pockets are a thing of the past.

    I find that many of the comments on this blog, with all due respect, seem to equate e-book reading with reading a laptop or on a computer. Nothing warm and fuzzy about that, I agree. I believe, as the prior poster stated, that you will see devices with very long battery life, highly readable, and with non-computer required downloading of books (that last part is definitely the Kindle) become commonplace.

    I just read an article that stated that about 1 out of 5 readers of newspapers now read them on-line. When the shift becomes 4 of 5, does one believe that news information will continue to be from presses, with messy ink, trucked all over the county in gas-guzzling vehicles at 4AM so that a 12-year-old paperboy or girl can schlep it to the end of your driveway in a plastic bag and you can walk out in your PJs to get it?

    Can the (relative) demise of the bound book be far behind?

    Although I like the “feel” of a bound book (just as some like the feel of a fountain pen), I can admit to struggling to hold a hard cover book above my head in bed to read, turning pages and waking my wife, buying a used book with licorice on page 118, and pulling a musty old book off the shelf only to disturb a family of silverfish from their interpage “home”.

    So, as a writer and a reader, I submit to you that we are aleady seeing an exodus from the eco-unfriendly printed, bound matter to digitized text. There are not just rumblings, but now a full on sirens declaring it’s coming.

    Perhaps we could revisit this subject on Tess’ website in one year, January 2008. The incoming tide will be apparent to all swimmers at that point.

  21. Cynbagley
    Cynbagley says:

    We may run out of readers… unfortunately.

    Except for me…

    As for the last commentor, if I read on-screen for any length of time I get a migraine. Books (printed kind) don’t give me headaches. So I will always root for, give alligience to, and love printed matter.

  22. Kristin G
    Kristin G says:

    I read recently on a blog that an adult male (in his mid-20s, I think) had NEVER written a letter to anyone! All of his communication in life had been through emails. These are the kinds of people who will gravitate towards e-books in the future.

    As for music, I think what will change are the big record labels. Independent artists don’t have to sign with a label anymore to make a career out of their music. They can just create a MySpace page and a website and sell their own CDs and keep the majority of the profit. Most musicians make pennies on each sale…and since it is so easy now to professionally mix and record music in your own home with relatively inexpensive equipment, why would you be satisfied with a pittance for each sale? Do it yourself and make more money.

    You wouldn’t have to sell a million copies to make a lot of money.

    I think the world of music and the written word is changing…and many of us are looking at it from the perspective of someone who grew up without these technologies. I think the younger generations look at this much differently than most of us.

  23. MontiLee Stormer
    MontiLee Stormer says:

    Come on now – eBooks are just as “real” as paper books. I really dislike the downplay. I have my hardcovers at home and I love the smell of books, but when I’m in the tub or on the go – one slim little guy has everything I need.

    I discovered Tess Gerritsen and Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child and Laurell k. Hamilton via eBooks. I’m not throwing out paper books as obsolete, but we have to understand that the next generation of people is going to want portability and the ability to download a book to screen in minutes is attractive for them. The publishing industry can either grow and adapt or die. Newer writers, such as myself, use the internet to market and promote. I’ve got lots of sample chapters from various authors on my reader and it’s a great way to see if the story is something you’d get into. That’s what makes iTunes so great, right? The fact that you can sample before you buy? The authors I like, I buy, either in eBook form or if it’s not available, paper form. I have no problem doing both as I’m all about supporting the writer.

    Come to think of it, I have several copies of the same books in Audio, eBook and paper form. It’s just how I roll.

    Ebooks are green and don’t require trees to be cut or energy to be recycled. I currently have 28 novels on my reader, ranging from Lewis Carroll’s “Through The Looking Glass” to George Orwell’s “1984” to Stephen King to J. M. Barrie to Neil Gaiman. I don’t have to be on the train and wish I’d brought another book.

    I also love the idea of having my favorite books with me wherever I am – I’m on the train, or waiting in the DMV. I love the portability of my words.

    They have come a long way from tiny screens and ten words to a page. I’ve had a Sony reader PRS-500 for almost a year now, and I love the fact that my eyes don’t get tired (no backlit screen), I can adjust the text to be larger, and I can read any book to fit my mood. The screen is the size of a paperback, and the print is so clear. I used to carry around three or four paperbacks. My back is so happy now.

    Also, I’ve learned how to format books to the reader, Palm, MobiBooks, etc., format. I’ve done it for my writing partner’s two books and will probably be doing it for my own.

    Don’t discount eBooks just because a small number of your readers use the format. As the technology changes and the format becomes more accessible and inexpensive, more readers may turn to portable readers.

    I really do dislike this Us verses Them mentality when it comes to portable readers. As long as we’re still reading and supporting our favorite writers, what difference does it make?

  24. jamesorr
    jamesorr says:

    The simple fact is it doesn’t matter. It’s the CONTENT that is important, not the MEDIUM.

    You make an emotional attachment to the work, not to the physical binding.

    Paper books aren’t going anywhere. For one thing e-book readers don’t lend themselves well to reference work. I’m a computer programmer, when I’m looking at a reference book I’m often flipping between pages and readers can’t really handle that.

    Hardbacks aren’t going anywhere either. People will still want collections of favorite works, not to mention signings if you are fortunate enough to live near a city authors frequent (I used to, unfortunately not anymore).

    Paperbacks may fall by the wayside, just as CDs are to MP3s now. The reason is the e-book fulfills much of the same need as the paperback, cheaper version of the same work in a less collectable version, but like the MP3 the e-book is more conveniantly available.

    People talk about eye-strain and reading at the computer. I hate reading at the computer, some can do it, I can’t. I don’t need to, I have a portable reader. It has an e-ink screen which is not back-lit and uses actual ink, it reads just like a printed page … scratch that … better than a printed page. I often find smudges or misprints in my paperbacks. Plus I can change the font size.

    And knaster, with an e-book you are still physically reading it, just not on paper.

    Some people tout the environmental thing as a pro for e-books, I do have to disagree with that. The paper used in books, most of the paper used for anything, comes from tree farms. If the demand for the paper wasn’t there neither would the farms be, so there would actually be LESS trees in the world.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply