If you didn’t already know the digital revolution has come to publishing. One of my favorite bookstores in Berkeley, California…Black Oak Books is gone from the scene now. Amazon is pushing its electronic publishing. I was reading a story in the Financial Times about the biggest French publishing company suggesting that the digital publishers should restrain their rushing new books into ebook formats and allow the industry to still run hardcover first editions. Isn’t that kind of okay to allow a publisher to get a crack at folk who’d like a hardcover first edition before saturating the ebook market with copies at discount?
I have owned a few hardcover books that I prize. East of Eden is one. It is a first run as best I can tell. I love the whole experience of the book in my hands. I like the smell of the book. I like the size font and the texture of the paper and its color and sense of richness. I don’t need all my books to come in this way, but for favorites, the really grand books that have moved us and send us back sometimes to remember them by exploring favorite chapters…. And now its almost as if we hold them and wonder how long we’ll be able to continue to buy a book in this format.
We shall see what the world brings. I haven’t been part of the past and I’m jumping into the arena in the present. Alan Rinzler mentioned at a talk this summer what enormous pressure publishers are under. Every season, every four months, there are three in publishing, he needs new books and new offerings to bring to the market place. From his point of view he can’t wait to have manuscripts that tempt him come across his desk. From the writers point of view? Well, I don’t know about other writers, but I’m going to relish every moment of every day along this journey.
After working on a longer book over the long time horizon and bringing this thing in for a landing on the creative side, it is a relief in a sense to finally turn toward the industry and begin to introduce this new work to them. Everyone is so frantic and so jacked up and tense and stressed, but really a book is an experience and journey that requires time and attention from each individual reader. It doesn’t matter if they are a professional reader or not. There are all these time compression techniques and super fast pitches they want you to make. Everything turns into this odd terse, clipped experience, and we are lost in the frenzy of the mindless moment.
I’m going to take my time…I’m going to watch each part of this journey unfold and appreciate every part. Even the part where the person I’m submitting to is expressing a sense of burden, of being overwhelmed, that there time is short, and attention brief, and I’ve given it some thought, and the answer is? It is like love, only one person needs to say yes….I will love you, I appreciate who you are, and what you are doing. That one takes their time with you….why not? When it is love it is indeed something we never want to come to an end.
Dana in Chicago on a beautiful end of summer weekend