Borders has declared chapter 11 bankruptcy, allegedly because e-books are stealing their cake. More than a quarter million books were published last year, but I betcha one third go back to the publishers to be pulped. In fact, the number of POD (print on demand) titles published in the U.S. increased 200 percent in 2008. In the same period, the publication of traditional titles dropped 3 percent to 275,232. And –zowee! – this week’s New York Times Book Review bestseller list has been expanded to include e-book sales.
Events are moving so fast that my head spins. Scrolling through my Palm Tungsten makes me feel like a caveman making fire with two sticks while my kids are equipped, figuratively, with Zippos. Should I buy an iPhone with a GPS app, Web access and tinny little iTunes? I rarely call people, so the telephone aspect is irrelevant, but then, younger people eschew e-mail in favor of texting. And I cherish my CDs of Billie Holiday and Chet Baker.
But maybe I can adapt slowly, the way dinosaurs turned into birds. Our WPIX-TV commentator said last night that everything is devolving onto the Internet – and now someone in Congress wants to give the President unilateral control to shut down the ‘net if there’s an emergency.
Wordsmith, author and webmaster Jon Gibbs [http://www.acatofninetales.com/] talked with our writers’ group Tuesday, and we were all enthralled with his explanation of how book marketing works (and what doesn’t work), social networking as a merchandising tool, and technological proficiency as a must-have for any writer. There went my head spinning again, and I thought I was successfully tracking developments in the publishing world.
Perhaps if I just pick at the new, digital world, the way I ate my mother’s cauliflower, I’ll see what works and what doesn’t. And I won’t need to throw away my Palm PDA just yet. Or eat cauliflower.