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.

4 comments:

  1. Fell in love with my Kindle iPad app last week when I found out that you could not only highlight and note passages (something I do with my beloved print books on an index card/book mark), but the application would lightly underline passages other users had also mass-highlighted. I was floored.

    Someone put one in my forehead right now. I've become one of them.

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  2. I love the shift from paper to electronic media! It opens doors on a massive scale. Now ANYONE can be published. If you're not accepted by a traditional publisher you can self publish your own thanks to the likes of Createspace and Lulu. You can also feed your book to the torrentz and let it be consumed by the masses.

    The downside: ANYONE can be published. Yes, there is a massive load of crap out there.

    The one thing I worry about is if creators are compensated well for their work. Just as bands are thinking of creative ways to make a living through their art - so must a modern day writer.

    One idea that I love that is taking off are the upcoming micropayment plans. I think they will be a great way to support online creators of music, fiction and art. One of these sites is http://flattr.com (Legitimate company by the creators of the piratebay.org). If we could support one another in ways like this I think we could go a long way. It's time to throw away tradition and start inventin'!

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  3. Oh, amen! The massive load of crap and the dubious electric compensation is going to be involved in part two. That micropayment thing sounds like a nifty development. The old ways certainly have to adapt to change to advance into the future!

    And, speaking of advancing into the future; Jessica, you are so Borg. But probably one of those sezzy, rebellious Borg like Seven of Nine. ;)

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  4. Oh there is nothing better than owning a real book!!! I revel in books! I did get the kindle app for my iphone and read my first book on it (The Zombie-Wilson Diaries.) I did like it although I didn't think I would. However, my favorite artists that I expect the most from and any book that I believe I will love, will always be bought in print and preferably in hardcover. I don't know what it is about a hardcover, paperbacks are easier to hold and handle, but I love the feel of them, the smell of them, the everything of them!!!

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