Wednesday, June 23, 2010

E-publishing: Why Now?

I had a friend recently ask me why I've decided to place my novel into the realm of ones and zeros at this particular time in history.  I answered his question in a rather off-handed way, but the truth is that the answer is a more involved one than I had time or inclination to articulate just then.

On a micro level, I've always personally felt that digital would offer the avid reader (and writer) a whole new level of experience. Since I was a young reader in my teens, I believed that a digital reading device, if done correctly, would make carrying and sorting books and magazines very easy.  I waited.  And fifty years on, behold a whole generation of great reading devices have emerged at a cost that the average person can afford.  (Just kidding, it hasn't been fifty years since my teenage years.  It's been closer to sixty ;-)

I'm a fairly spastic reader.  If something doesn't catch fire in my interest right away, I will put it down for a while and go to something else.  I may then read in short bursts and often have a few things on the go, magazines, pop fiction, perhaps a lengthy non-fiction, maybe a classic.  But I don't like to carry all that with me.  In fact, I like to carry nothing at all, and would welcome something to replace my wallet and keys if the tech existed.  Thus, I'm often caught in one of those in-between moments of life with nothing to read.  Enter devices like the Nook, the Kindle, the Sony Reader and now, bless their hearts, the Apple iPad and iPhone 4.  These gatchets are easy on the eyes and carry all my books in their innards, all organized, bookmarked and with flawless reproductions of the cover art and author photos so I can recommend them to friends with a visual hint for when that friend gets to the book store himself.

There's a certain part of me that enjoys the idea of a big old mahogany room with green felt accents and dim task lights plus rows upon rows of leather-bound books.  But, in a practical sense, life is too busy to maintain and organize such a library. Plus, where would I put it?  To have a room dedicated to simply reading is a luxurious and pricey thing for most so to instead have literally millions of books and magazines wherever I go?  That I see as a revolution.

And, on a more macro level, that is why I decided to jump on the e-book bandwagon at this juncture.  When I heard that indie authors would have a chance to get their stories available on the iPad, sitting in that digital library along with the Stephen Kings and the Stieg Larssons, I believed that we were standing on the precipice of a new way for people to keep reading.  And I wanted to be a part of it.

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