Friday, June 4, 2010

The Horrors of Electronic Media, pt 1

Posted by LD Keach on Friday, June 4, 2010

(Or, hey, e-media's not that bad...)

We’ve all heard it. Soon, we’ll be burying the bloated corpse of print media and reading all our newspapers online, and the internet will plug directly into our skulls to feed us mortgage refinancing commercials while we sleep, et cetera, et cetera...

And, truly, it’s a horrifying thought. Every writer is haunted by nightmares of that vast, barren landscape crawling with Borg-like ebook readers, where the Feds break down our doors to forcibly implant USB ports into our foreheads. A dystopian future where no one can press their noses between old pages and inhale that glorious smell of print. Terrible!

But I’m here to say, don’t worry. It's totally not going to happen.

Back in the day, people freaked out about television murdering the movie industry. Not the making of the movies themselves, but the theaters that showed them. It was a brand-new format, wildly accessible and cheap, and the fear was that the public would no longer want to fork out the cash for just the experience of a theater when they could get their movies on the little box flashing in their living room.

People like to freak out. (Which is good for us, because we’re horror writers. We capitalize on people’s tendencies to freak out.)

Anyway, literature is not necessarily the profit-shoveling venture that motion pictures are today, so its easy to see the writing on the walls and mistake it for doomful prophecy. More and more publishers are flocking to the safety of the low-overhead-cost electronic formats. Especially magazines. And it’s not just because of the current economic maelstrom—magazines have been slowly shedding their print-format skins for years. Especially fiction magazines, which have been an endangered species since freakin’ 1857 or something. (Just go to your local Borders and count how many fiction magazines are stuffed in like refugees between the Cosmos and the Guitar Worlds. It’s grisly.)

And any writing produced in print format is more costly to produce and more expensive to buy. Just like at the movie theaters, where they charge upwards of eight dollars for one medium tub of popcorn. But, really, who can go see a movie without the massive tub of greasy popcorn?

People will still buy books for the experience. And, people will still enjoy good fiction online and in electronic formats. It’s actually more of a widening of options than it is a funeral for the industry. Publication is publication, and more and more people are beginning to realize that these days. The literary stigma of pixel vs ink is beginning to fade.

Electronic media is not a murderer, anymore.

So, the only thing to do is to stop doom-saying and submit. Because it doesn’t matter if the publisher is print or online, the best markets to send your fiction are the ones that are established and thriving. The markets that have an audience, whether that means an audience of cash-forking bibliophiles or web-surfing click-addicts. And a thriving online market is much more valuable to a writer’s career than a pretty print market that spit out its first issue at Kinko’s last week and is going to die after issue two.

But of course, with all this lovely supportive sentiment about electronic media aside, Kindle is the work of the Devil. Seriously.

I’ll have to elaborate on that point another time, because the Feds just broke down my door, and I can already hear the mortgage refinancing commercials singing in my head.