Posts Tagged ‘The New York Times’


A few years ago, thinking of a future in publishing, I too attended the massive book fair. Comparable only to a Hog Show (not that I’ve ever attended a hog show), the massive arena is a heyday for publishers, agents, and hanger-oners (ME!) of the publishing industry to network, promote and check out last years trends, and compare the coming year’s trends.

ok, I lied. I went for the free books.

This year, however, the “book world” is buzzing with the new Kindle, that goofy looking device, that allows you to buy and download and subsequently read books, all electronically. There are quite a few out-spoken opponents of the device. According to The New York Times, the writer Sherman Alexie refused to let his books to be published electronically. He called the kindle “elitist” and when he saw a woman near him reading on a kindle near him on a recent flight, he “wanted to hit her.” (He later commented on this statement here.)

KindleBut the fact is, that book sells are declining, in part because of the recession, but also presumably because of the availability of electronic written material. And the fact is, that even if the Kindle goes out of fashion, electronic publishing is not going to disappear. (It really is a goofy looking device. I also have waited on customers and had a similar feeling of revulsion as Mr. Alexie.)

Besides, how elitist is it, really? I will spare you all a long tirade about book history, but I would like to point out that books until recently were an elite form of communication. Until the point of extensive proliferation of written materials, only very few had the means or access to published materials. Literacy in many ways remains an elite form of communication. Poetry especially, I’d like to point out to Mr. Alexie.

I can only presume that the internet and electronic communication will continue to to proliferate and increase in accessibility — free internet access to all, anyone? community computers? Particularly the more “low-brow” forms of blogs and self-publishing. Maybe not with the Kindle, but the internet gives an author more freedom to self-publish, and maybe not be quite as dictated by the publishing “giants” — as the on-line publishing community is still developing and it remains to be seen how written material really will transform in the next few years.

In resumen: kindles may suck, but the internet is great.

Interesting side note, Richard Nash, formerly of Soft Skull Press has dedicated himself to working within this newly developing field, saying that he will be working for his

passionate belief in the future of publishing, in the future of community built around long-form edited narrative texts, in the future of connecting writers and readers, in a Web 3.0 that’s about the filters.

Check out his blog, here.

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