Thursday, August 22, 2013

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to read

Year's ago, when CD's were just starting to hit the scene in the computer world, I imagined a world where books would eventually be replaced by some kind of digital reader. And since I have no way to prove that I had this idea long before Amazon existed and the Kindle hit the scene, you have only my word and faulty memory that this is true.

I recently read a blog post by Seth Godin (self-proclaimed marketing guru) about the death of book stores brought on by the proliferation of digital books. Along with the book stores going out of business, so is the publishing world that dictated for so many years who and what could be published. Because now, everybody and their dog can publish an electronic book. And trust me I've read a few books lately that seemed as though a dog had written them by licking kibbles and bits off from some keyboard in random order.

Don't get me wrong. I love my Kindle Fire and digital books. I am just sad that being a writer just isn't what it used to be. When I was 16 and got my first job shelving books in a public library, I dreamed that some day some pimply faced teenager was going to have to shelf one of my novels. Now, instead of shelving my book, the same pimply faced teenager would simply have to download it off Amazon and then only if he mistakes it for an App that contains nudity and violence.

While digital books are more accessible to a wider audience, they unfortunately cheapen the craft of writing. We used to put a value on writers. Now anyone with a computer can publish. And Godin points out that very few digital books are pirated the way music is. No one puts value on them the way they used to with paper books.

Amazon regularly offers "free" digital books for Kindle. I have found that most of the free books I download are well worth the price I've paid. Many are self-indulgent, loosely veiled memoirs masquerading as novels. Others are the first in a series that the authors are using to hook readers so they will buy the rest of the books in the series. And worst of all are the works of Christian fiction that don't state upfront that they are works of Christian fiction.

Digital books have cured me of the desire to ever write and publish a novel. They have become the vanity press for the masses. There doesn't seem to be a sense of accomplishment in publishing a digital book, especially if it is self published. It it kind of like writing a blog.

Wait a minute. Who am I to be critical of self-indulgent, self-published ramblings? It is my trademark. I wrote the book on it. Well, actually the blog.


Helen Baggott said...


Sad, but true.

Time said...

I figured you could relate, Baggy.