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rugcat
08-22-2011, 11:43 PM
Articles predicting the death of print on paper are common.

Here's one from the Edinburgh international book festival this weekend. Writer Ewan Morrison not only takes that as a given, but takes it to the next level -- that ebooks are not a simple paradigm shift we must embrace, but that writing itself as a profession will shortly disappear. Not sure I buy it completely, but it makes a strong, if depressing case.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/22/are-books-dead-ewan-morrison?CMP=twt_gu

MacAllister
08-22-2011, 11:48 PM
Huh.

Yet the publishing (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/09/books/survey-shows-publishing-expanded-since-2008.html?_r=2&src=recg) industry is showing growth (http://www.bookbusinessmag.com/article/new-study-shows-steady-growth-publishing-industry-26740/1), and independent bookstores seem to be making a comeback (http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/independent-bookstores-add-a-new-chapter/2011/08/12/gIQAfMh9LJ_story.html?hpid=z2).

Susan Littlefield
08-23-2011, 12:23 AM
My home library is alive, well, and thriving with mostly hardcover (and some softcover) books. E books may be popular, but that does not mean paper print is on the way out.

AlishaS
08-23-2011, 01:42 AM
Huh. I'm only way out to the book store right now, my son "needs lots and lots of new books" And so I shall by them for him.

PorterStarrByrd
08-23-2011, 01:55 AM
I don't own a kindle, and never will, so I don't know if this is true or not.

Evidently the e-books, including those on library kindles, have a short shelf life of a year or less. After that they 'go away'.

If this is true, the same e-publishing that is supposed to be killing print, may also pump some life back into it.

I've been known to keep a book for over a year before I got around to reading it. When I find something I know that I'm going to like in a used book store, or when I am down in the states in ANY book store, I pick it up and put it in line.

Knowing it might disolve before then would definitely make me choose print rather than pick up a kindle that I COULD use up here.

eyeblink
08-23-2011, 02:08 AM
I doubt that ebooks will kill print books, the same way as paperbacks didn't kill hardbacks. The proportion of sales of each one will shift and I don't know how they will end up. For starters, what will book collectors do?

rugcat
08-23-2011, 04:34 AM
I doubt that ebooks will kill print books, the same way as paperbacks didn't kill hardbacks. The proportion of sales of each one will shift and I don't know how they will end up. For starters, what will book collectors do?Except that Morrison's conjecture is that the new standard for digital media is free content, with content a commodity that drives ad sales. It's not just about ebooks vs print; it's about a whole new universe where the traditional writer who gets paid for work becomes an endangered species.


I don't own a kindle, and never will, so I don't know if this is true or not.Yes, but you're of the generation that read books. You, my friend, like me, are a dinosaur, and where are they today?

Shadow_Ferret
08-23-2011, 05:10 AM
... but that writing itself as a profession will shortly disappear.

Well, I sure am glad I've accepted the fact that I can't write anyway. :D

Libbie
08-23-2011, 05:43 AM
When the photographic camera was invented, the art world bewailed the imminent death of the art of realistic portrait and landscape painting.

It didn't happen.

frimble3
08-23-2011, 06:08 AM
Except that Morrison's conjecture is that the new standard for digital media is free content, with content a commodity that drives ad sales.

And, as is so often the case, 'free content' is worth about what you paid for it.
If 'free content' was all that was needed, and writers willing to write for free, why aren't the fan fiction sites making their owners into billionaires?
It might make more writers, in that people will look at the stuff available for free and say what most writers say at some point "Heck, I could do that!"
It might be that fewer writers will make a living at writing, but there might be a lot more niche writers.

blacbird
08-23-2011, 06:20 AM
I've reached the point where I think books have always been dead. My perception that these objects exist is a delusion, a fig newton of my damaged psyche. Hahaha.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha . . .
]
cawcawcawcawcawcawcawcawcawcaw . . .

Alan_Often
08-23-2011, 06:41 AM
I work in the film industry and am one of the few people I meet on a day to day basis who actively attempts to avoid piracy of media. This isn't some high-minded judgement, but rather an understanding that the jobs of everyone in the major studios depend on a positive bottom line. Even those in the field seem unwilling to support the industry that provides their livelihood. Most people I work with laugh at the mere suggestion of paying to see a film in the theatres (which I do once or twice a week). Sure the prices are high for tickets, etc. but I just don't think I could come in and work knowing I was contributing to the death of my chosen field.

The idea that piracy is becoming an accepted conduit for media consumption is clear, and perhaps there needs to be a paradigm shift in all arts. At least with music and writing, independent artists have the opportunity to express themselves. There are such severe cost restrictions on producing for film that, should it ever reach the point where it is no longer supported as a business, the types of films we see will necessarily simplify (for better or worse).

I'm sorry to digress into a discussion about film, but, as it is my field of experience, I can look better at this situation through that filter. While we professional artists depend on a cash flow to sustain our careers, if everything burst tomorrow and there was no financial reason to produce art anymore, would we stop? I know that I didn't hang my childhood drawings on the fridge in exchange for any sort of monetary reward.

I write for the joy of storytelling. My dream is not to be published (though I would like to be), but to get my work into the minds of as many people as possible. If the river forks, I'll paddle with the current on its new course, in the hopes that it will eventually find a fresh path to the sea.

Al Stevens
08-23-2011, 06:42 AM
When the photographic camera was invented, the art world bewailed the imminent death of the art of realistic portrait and landscape painting.

It didn't happen.
Not dead, but on the critical list. Coinciding with the development of photography was the evolution of less realism in paintings. Impressionism, and afterwards. Realism is still in practice, but it thrives mostly in commercial art, which kind of tracks along with the conclusions given in the subject article. The Norman Rockwells are in a minority, relics of an earlier time.

Libbie
08-23-2011, 06:51 AM
Iiiiinteresting, because just today I saw an exhibition of students who attend a local art academy which is focusing on a realism revival. It was great.

I'm a bit biased here, though, because I come from a family of professional artists and most of them are realists, or at least impressionists who are more of the Sargent persuasion than the Van Gogh persuasion. :)

Al Stevens
08-23-2011, 06:55 AM
Except that Morrison's conjecture is that the new standard for digital media is free content, with content a commodity that drives ad sales.Nothing new there. That is exactly how broadcast radio and television have survived since their inception. The paradigm assumes that consumers select content of quality or, at least, content that appeals to them, and then their selections drive which content advertisers underwrite.

DeadlyAccurate
08-23-2011, 09:03 AM
I love my iPad2. I've only bought one print book since I got it (a compilation of comics for the webcomic, Order of the Stick), and I doubt I'll be buying many novels in print any more.

But even I don't expect ebooks to completely kill the print market. Records haven't disappeared. DVDs still exist. I mean, the automobile didn't even eliminate a use for horses.

benbradley
08-23-2011, 10:07 AM
I don't own a kindle, and never will, so I don't know if this is true or not.

Evidently the e-books, including those on library kindles, have a short shelf life of a year or less. After that they 'go away'.

If this is true, the same e-publishing that is supposed to be killing print, may also pump some life back into it.

I've been known to keep a book for over a year before I got around to reading it. When I find something I know that I'm going to like in a used book store, or when I am down in the states in ANY book store, I pick it up and put it in line.

Knowing it might disolve before then would definitely make me choose print rather than pick up a kindle that I COULD use up here.
I had to read your whole post to see what you meant by "go away." I hadn't heard that, though I know libraries buy a certain number of "borrows" for an ebook, and if a book's popularity goes to zero they won't bother to buy any more "borrows."

But yeah, the Kindle only holds a few books, but you supposedly have a "library" of the books you've bought on the cloud, and can supposedly download one to read any time you want, for as long as Amazon lets you do that.

Alternatively, there's a free Kindle reader program for the PC I've considered getting, then I could download any ebooks I buy and keep them on my computer forever, and not have to worry about Amazon being around or changing policies next year or next month, or even deleting it like they did with "1984."

But yes, whatever the details are, the ebook thing (and any possible digital rights management crap) is changing how we buy and handle books.

I love my iPad2. I've only bought one print book since I got it (a compilation of comics for the webcomic, Order of the Stick), and I doubt I'll be buying many novels in print any more.

But even I don't expect ebooks to completely kill the print market. Records haven't disappeared. DVDs still exist. I mean, the automobile didn't even eliminate a use for horses.
The automobile did kill off the buggy whip industry, though the Teamsters Union continued on.

LP's (or "vinyls" as the youngun's call them now!) have been made and sold continuously through the CD and MP3 era. I hear sales are even up in recent years as younger people discover the "good sound of vinyl" (which really is better than the hypercompressed and intentionally distorted (!) sound of CD's in recent decades). They're a tool of DJ's ("Turntablists") and the preferred medium of some audiophiles, but they disappeared from mainstream music stores not long after CD sales overtook them, and then disappeared from the consciousness of the public.

I don't see books disappearing from retail outlets quite so completely, but they WILL become harder to find.

RobJ
08-23-2011, 10:36 AM
You, my friend, like me, are a dinosaur, and where are they today?
In books.

skylark
08-23-2011, 12:18 PM
I've been known to keep a book for over a year before I got around to reading it. When I find something I know that I'm going to like in a used book store, or when I am down in the states in ANY book store, I pick it up and put it in line.

Knowing it might disolve before then would definitely make me choose print rather than pick up a kindle that I COULD use up here.

My dad bought a Kindle because he was tired of trying to find specific out-of-print books in used bookstores.

Mind you, he's not going to keep the book industry going - when I asked him how much he paid for books, he looked at me as if I was nuts. He doesn't plan to buy anything for his Kindle ever. What he reads is all out-of-print, out-of-copyright, and available for free on Project Gutenberg. They're not going anywhere, and if they did, he's already downloaded them to his computer anyway.

It wouldn't have occurred to me that a Kindle would be the gadget of choice for someone who thinks a modern book is something written after 1950 :)

Edit: Also, his eyesight isn't great, and he loves that he can increase the font size. That's something which might keep people buying electronic versions of books when they'd have had to give up buying paper ones which had become a struggle to read.

seun
08-23-2011, 01:03 PM
Well, that's the most depressing start to a Tuesday morning I've had in a while.

shaldna
08-23-2011, 03:31 PM
death of books....end of the publishing industry....out with the old....the end is nigh...blah blah blah.

Heard it all before.

Been hearing it for years and it still hasn't happened so you'll understand if I don't hold my breath on this one.

melodyclark
08-23-2011, 03:40 PM
Free content is usually of a lower quality. There's a tradition of free fan fic that keeps it going, but even there, the stuff I read in zines 20 years ago was far and away superior to the 90% crap posted to the ff communities. It's been my experience that free content dampens the desire for free content, since it's often so bad. It makes people search out the good pro stuff.

As for writing for a living being a thing of the past, that's sheer nonsense. If anything, the writer's age has only begun. More of us will be able to make money from our work, just as other artists have done for ages, selling one-to-one. We'll just be in control of the output. Big market publishing is in danger perhaps but not writing.

smcc360
08-23-2011, 03:58 PM
http://28.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lleikpu8hq1qz6f4bo1_500.jpg

If you can't trust a Ghostbuster, then who you gonna call?

Torgo
08-23-2011, 04:01 PM
Sadly I find his argument largely persuasive. I'm not sure we're looking at the Death of the Book, but certainly we are looking at tougher times for everyone who isn't an 800lb Internet Gorilla.

melodyclark
08-23-2011, 04:24 PM
Actually, I think the 800 lb Internet Gorilla will have the worst chance of all. I guess we'll see what happens.

smcc360
08-23-2011, 04:46 PM
Apparently authors will need day jobs, which is what I've always been told not to quit.

From the linked article's comments, by someone called Xaeromancer:


The death of the Lost Symbol / Harry Potter-style book deal will mean that writers will have to work harder and smarter. It means they'll frequently have to maintain day jobs, gather "life experience" that'll inform their work and face the fact that evolution will weed out the weak and test their dedication.


Or they will need to attach themselves to wealthy patrons.

Torgo
08-23-2011, 04:50 PM
Actually, I think the 800 lb Internet Gorilla will have the worst chance of all. I guess we'll see what happens.

Just to clarify - by which I mean Apple, Amazon and Google.

bearilou
08-23-2011, 05:08 PM
Alternatively, there's a free Kindle reader program for the PC I've considered getting, then I could download any ebooks I buy and keep them on my computer forever, and not have to worry about Amazon being around or changing policies next year or next month, or even deleting it like they did with "1984."

To take this aside.

I own about 100 Kindle books.

And I don't own a Kindle.

I use their Kindle for the PC and make sure when I buy the book it gets downloaded to my PC immediately and doesn't sit in the cloud. Then a copy of that folder gets backed up and moved. So, yep. No worries about it pulling a '1984' on me. I love the Kindle for the PC.

lauralam
08-23-2011, 05:13 PM
I think ebooks help readers become more adventurous. I live in a tiny, tiny flat. I have to really think I'm going to love a book before I buy it in print. However, I'll take a lot more risks with ebooks because I don't have to worry about finding a space for it on my bookshelf or going through the bother of carting it to a charity shop. I still read print books 90% of the time or more, but I love having the option of print, e-book, and audiobook.

ChaosTitan
08-23-2011, 05:20 PM
Apparently authors will need day jobs, which is what I've always been told not to quit.

From the linked article's comments, by someone called Xaeromancer:

Someone might want to remind him that the large majority of writers DO still maintain day jobs.


ETA: "him" = the author in the article, not smcc360 :)

shaldna
08-23-2011, 06:28 PM
I have a day job. Most writers I know do.

Jamesaritchie
08-23-2011, 06:51 PM
There's not only more writing now than at any time in history, but more people now earn a living at writing than at any time in history.

It's all speculation, and none of it has anything to back it up. None of the arguments about the future of writing and books, pro or con, mean as much as a fart in a whirlwind.

shaldna
08-23-2011, 08:10 PM
It's all speculation, and none of it has anything to back it up. None of the arguments about the future of writing and books, pro or con, mean as much as a fart in a whirlwind.

This I agree with.

No one can predict the future. No one. No matter how much they know or think they know.

scarletpeaches
08-23-2011, 08:12 PM
None of the arguments about the future of writing and books, pro or con, mean as much as a fart in a whirlwind.Including your own?

Torgo
08-23-2011, 08:19 PM
It's fun to speculate, or I would be working right now.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
08-23-2011, 09:24 PM
Stories sell people, new ideas, adds; to tell is human. Story vessels evolve. Kamishibai yesterday, graphic novels today, storytelling educational software tomorrow. Who knows. Damn shame if books go. Then again, the internet as a story vessel will evolve too, better regulated into (hopefully) a sane system that is traceable and in which counterfeit isn't the regular currency. Some day... but maybe not ours.

Al Stevens
08-23-2011, 09:45 PM
The e-reader and the print edition are media for conveying content, that's all. People buy content not books. The prevailing medium changes with technology now just as it has in the past. I see e-publishing as a vehicle that can increase the demand for content thus adding opportunities for writers. You must be flexible, though, find the markets and the media and learn to write to and for them.

dgiharris
08-23-2011, 10:47 PM
in the future, will be written by first-timers, by teams, by speciality subject enthusiasts and by those who were already established in the era of the paper book. The digital revolution will not emancipate writers or open up a new era of creativity, it will mean that writers offer up their work for next to nothing or for free. Writing, as a profession, will cease to exist

This is full of soooo many logical holes I don't even know where to begin. So, i'll just mention the first obvious analogy that highlights why the above logic is just wrong.

All of the arguments against books and writing as a profession could apply to Hollywood/TV vs. the internet and youtube.

We can make our own movies and shows and post them on youtube so why aren't we predicting the fall of TV and Hollywood movies? Why do we still watch these medias?

Simple, because TV and Hollywood still produce a SUPERIOR product.

Just as the current publishing process produces a superior product.

Yes the publishing industry seems cumbersome and needlessly unfair, but the end result is that only the top 1% of stories make it to the reader.

Flooding the market with inferior "free" product is not going to lead to the demise of the superior product. At worst, it may take 5% of the market share longterm imo.

Mel...

skylark
08-23-2011, 11:52 PM
Loads and loads and loads of writers already offer up their work for next to nothing or for free.

The problem is that so much of what's offered up for next to nothing or free is really, really poor that it's almost impossible to filter it out and leave just the good stuff. The vast majority of readers are prepared to pay for something which has been through that filter. I don't see that changing any time soon.

melodyclark mentioned the fanfic in zines 20 years ago. It wasn't any better than the best fanfic being written and posted now. It just had a filter applied - the zine editors didn't print the rubbish.

Though maybe that's a more depressing analogy, as there are very few fanfic zines left even though they are much higher quality than the unfiltered sites :(

melodyclark
08-24-2011, 01:40 AM
Loads and loads and loads of writers already offer up their work for next to nothing or for free.

The problem is that so much of what's offered up for next to nothing or free is really, really poor that it's almost impossible to filter it out and leave just the good stuff. The vast majority of readers are prepared to pay for something which has been through that filter. I don't see that changing any time soon.

melodyclark mentioned the fanfic in zines 20 years ago. It wasn't any better than the best fanfic being written and posted now. It just had a filter applied - the zine editors didn't print the rubbish.

Though maybe that's a more depressing analogy, as there are very few fanfic zines left even though they are much higher quality than the unfiltered sites :(


Yes, that's what I said -- the fanfic in zines was better. One reason it was better is that it was submitted to an editor. Another reason is that fan fic had no immediate gratification factor in the Olden Days. Nowadays, it is creative typing (thank you, Dorothy Parker) written in order to slap up on a website and await the unstinting praise of the writer's acolyte circle jerk.

OneWriter
08-24-2011, 07:23 PM
Is this why dystopians sell so well right now?

Because the end of the world book is near?

JenniferShepherd
09-09-2011, 06:42 PM
I've made my full-time living as a writer for over a decade now. Syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine columnist, ebook writer, website girl (writing on all types of subjects and earning commissions when someone buys a product I link to as an affiliate marketer.)

I'm also the daughter of an English teacher, and while I own a Kindle, my love for print books hasn't gone away.

Like most Kindle users, I tend to read certain types of books on the Kindle and others in print format. This seems to be true across the board when Kindle readers are surveyed. It's not like the majority of book lovers have switched over to exclusively read on the Kindle (although younger readers still tend to read more in "e" format than older folks do.)

This is a truly incredible time to be a writer. Really. It's a little easier for me because I'm a non-fiction girl, but even some fiction writers I know are making VERY good money just selling ebooks through Amazon (and using Smashwords for non-Kindle ebook readers.)

You do have to be brave about venturing into online marketing, though -- just throwing together a blog or a simple website often isn't enough. The successful fiction writers I know are active on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. I don't use those myself, I just do the bulk of my marketing with my websites and with ezines (newsletters delivered by email.)

Anyway, I'm not seeing a complete death of book purchasing in my own world, but the bankruptcy of Border's really hit home for me in showing me how print books are going to be less accessible for a lot of people in the future unless they make the effort to order a print book off of Amazon. We went into our Border's recently, and it was like a funeral for something very BIG -- not just the end of that chain, but the potential end for how many people receive and welcome print books into their lives. People are definitely growing more accustomed to "e" formats, but hopefully print will still survive.

Old Hack
09-09-2011, 07:45 PM
Whenever I read one of these "e-books will replace print books" articles I remember the articles I read in the 1980s about the rise of the paperless office.

That went so well.

Al Stevens
09-09-2011, 08:00 PM
"Get a horse."

Amadan
09-09-2011, 08:02 PM
Evidently the e-books, including those on library kindles, have a short shelf life of a year or less. After that they 'go away'.

Not true. A digital file is forever. Some DRM schemes do try to limit access to ebooks, but (a) they are not applied to all ebooks, and (b) they are easily bypassed.

All of the ebooks I've bought are DRM-free and will be available to me as long as the Internet exists.



Not dead, but on the critical list. Coinciding with the development of photography was the evolution of less realism in paintings. Impressionism, and afterwards. Realism is still in practice, but it thrives mostly in commercial art, which kind of tracks along with the conclusions given in the subject article. The Norman Rockwells are in a minority, relics of an earlier time.

Why is this necessarily bad? There's nothing wrong with realism, but there's nothing sacred about it either. Art styles and fashions change.

Al Stevens
09-09-2011, 08:04 PM
Why is this necessarily bad? There's nothing wrong with realism, but there's nothing sacred about it either. Art styles and fashions change.Who said it was bad?

Sheryl Nantus
09-09-2011, 08:19 PM
Whenever I read one of these "e-books will replace print books" articles I remember the articles I read in the 1980s about the rise of the paperless office.

That went so well.

I remember the classic "We'll save the rain forests! When we all work on computers there'll be no need for paper and we'll save the Amazon!"

... then we wanted triplicate copies for our files.

:ROFL:

Old Hack
09-09-2011, 10:17 PM
Originally Posted by PorterStarrByrd http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=6469346#post6469346)
Evidently the e-books, including those on library kindles, have a short shelf life of a year or less. After that they 'go away'.

Not true. A digital file is forever.
I don't think that's right, Amadan. I can remember reading that libraries are going to be limited on the number of times they can lend each e-book out, but right now I can't find a source for this.

I shall trust the AW hivemind to provide a link.

benbradley
09-09-2011, 11:01 PM
Amazon 1984 (http://www.google.com/search?q=Amazon+1984)

(just a log to keep the fire going, and more a response to Amadan than Old Hack)

Amadan
09-09-2011, 11:52 PM
Hence my caveat about DRM.

I think DRM will go away eventually. In the meantime, it doesn't take that much tech-savy to get DRM-free books.