Books, newspapers, magazines, cassette tapes, CDs, video tapes, and DVDs were great in their day. But their day is rapidly ending. Why?
In the (good) old days, a creative person would work hard to create something, then would have to depend on a distributor (book publisher, record label, movie studio) to have their content distributed to readers/listeners/watchers/customers. How many wonderful somethings never saw the light of day because of a publisher didn’t have the vision to recognize something good. That model is slowly, but surely, dying.
Computers and the Internet are allowing people who create content — writers, musicians, video/movie producers — to distribute it without the hassles of physical form or inventory. Where publishers used to have the power, now the “creators” have the power.
Remember LPs? Eight-track tapes? Cassette tapes? Not that long ago, they were replaced by CDs. Now CDs are being replaced by iPods and the like. Why inventory thousands of CDs and spend time trying to find one to play when you can go to your smaller-than-a-pack-of-cigarette iPod and find it in a few seconds? Sure there will still be people who prefer an LP to a digitized song — just like there will still be people who prefer to read a book on paper rather than on an e-reader — but they will be a very small audience, who will pay a premium for a physical copy.
There are a number of good e-readers on the market. The Sony Readers and Kindles are just the top two right now. The prices are dropping. The Sony is down to around $186 and the Kindle just dropped to $259. They will drop further, especially if the upcoming Apple iTablet turns out, as rumored, to be a super-sized iPhone that pushes digital books as a major function, with Barnes & Noble as their publishing partner.
My Kindle version of the new Dan Brown book cost $9.99. The hard copy costs $16.17 hardcover on Amazon. Sure, you might be able to sell your hard copy for $6.18 after you read it — so you can match the digital price — but selling a used book can take time. And how much is your time worth?
Books were cool. Kindles are cooler. Hold one in your hand and you’ll understand. Type too small? Pressing one button makes it bigger. Press it again for even bigger. Have tired eyes? The Kindle will read you most books in a pleasant (computer) voice. Love the New York Times? For $13.99 a month, you’ll get it delivered to your Kindle every morning; and you don’t have to tip the paper boy every Christmas. Can’t live without The New Yorker? The Kindle version is $2.99 a month. Including cartoons.
Like it or not, the Kindle is the future of reading … and publishing. And for writers, it’s a good thing.