Book Wars

Lots of things to think about today. The news of Sony dropping their ebook department sort of shocked me awake. It got me thinking about all this publishing hullabaloo. Online there seems to be a rather frenetic discussion occurring over the social media airwaves. All kinds of speculations and doomsday speakers.

I always love how the doomsdayers rise up when things change, as if they’ve been waiting all along, hoping and praying for the bottom to fall out. You get that in all kinds of sectors, not just publishing. Occasionally, in the past I have even joined in on the dark proclamations of a dour consequence. (On June 6th, 2006 the world did not end, btw.)  

Well, I like to think as I approach the big 4-0, that I have learned something from this life. Yes, I think I have. That’s not to say I don’t have much more to learn. They say he who stops learning stops living, or something like that. 

So, in that festive mood, I shall step up to the mount and decree my own proclamation. I think that no matter the markets, no matter the devices or means of distribution of product, that ultimately the prize will go to the best contender. What the hell am I saying? 

This: paper books aren’t going away. Ebooks aren’t either. The indie regime isn’t going to overthrow the Big 6 and the Big 6 isn’t going to squash the little guy. The Book Wars of the twenty-first century aren’t going to destroy the world. (Darn! Nothing like a good apocalypse to keep everyone interested.) 

No one predicted the internet. You know, that’s a hell of a thing to say. I remember (he says as he takes out his false teeth) a world without the internet. Ah, the age of innocence when you had to actually face up to a clerk to buy your porno. Anyway, no one predicted the internet (and in this case, the Print on Demand publishing machine), so it has proven to  be a huge game changer for everyone everywhere. Well, game changer, not game destroyer. 

So, the playing field will ebb and flow and settle. The individual or company who puts out the best quality, the fastest most accessible way, will win the prize, i.e. get paid. 

When I was a young man, I worked at Green Giant for a summer. You know, “Ho, ho, ho Greeeen Giant!” Anyway, its a pea and corn canning factory. I was what they called a “froth washer.” My job was to sit in a big noisy room filled with conveyor belts and cauldrons and I had to watch the cauldrons and apply either a soap solution or an oil solution. The peas would come cascading into the cauldrons and if I had my solutions correct, the soap would make things sink and the oil would make things float and the peas would sink and go to the conveyor belts and the riffraff, the chafe and leaves or whatever, would float off the top to the gutters. The title of the job came because huge, billowing clouds of suds would accumulate from the soap and then we had to spray some God-knows-what solution on the soap to make the bubbles fizzle out. 

Later, I might tell the story of the other job I had there, “pepper dumper,” but not now. 

So, I believe it’s the same thing here. The good stuff will move onto the conveyors and the crap will float off the top to the gutters. Bad product and bad producers will be found out and the good stuff will stick around. I just don’t believe you can tweet or Facebook-Like a bad or not-good-enough book into fame and fortune. 

One company stated that the rise of the indie publisher is making it hard on them. Well, that’s a bit like saying too much rain kills crops. Even if it is true, what are you going to do about it? You can’t stop the rain. No, you have find a way to put out a better yield, i.e. a better product.  


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