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Author Topic: Is technology killing old loved books?  (Read 1716 times)

Stephen66515

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Is technology killing old loved books?
« on: October 25, 2014, 02:41:43 PM »
Quote
In this age of electronic books, are we losing the magic of passing on a well-thumbed paperback, perhaps with a name scribbled inside - or even notes in the margin that tell a story of where a book has been? Or can the two happily co-exist, giving us the best of both worlds?
Josh Spero, author of Second Hand Stories and editor of Spear's Magazine, and the author Erica Wagner, a former literary editor at the Times newspaper, mulled over the question of new tech and old books.

More info + Podcast: http://www.bbc.co.uk...inment-arts-29769880

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Is technology killing old loved books?
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2014, 10:36:38 AM »

One thing has changed for sure ... the speed that stuff ceases to be "iconic".

In the SciFi field for example, in my childhood my favorite trick was to (benignly) abuse the pricing policy of Annie's Bookstop used book pricing. "Half Cover Price". As a mid aged biz trained adult it had a long term benefit, aka raising the overall price of the store stock, but for a sweet golden period, there was lots of wonderful Gold and Silver age stuff there. So Dad's $20 allowance could let me bring home 15 books!!

And back then, stories lasted a lot longer. Isaac Asimov's Nightfall, while a nice little story itself, magically found itself as a the Golden Child of Reprint Anthologies, and stuck around for *twenty years*. Today we're lucky if anyone gestaltly remembers anything before Obama's 2nd election.


superboyac

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Re: Is technology killing old loved books?
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2014, 10:57:37 AM »
I don't know what to say about these kinds of things, or even where I stand.
I like the nostalgic experiences of these kinds of things.  I miss the days when we anticpiated albums coming out and meeting with friends to listen to them for the first time (I remember Guns n Roses was particularly exciting), and from what I've heard about the 60s and 70s, I missed that also.

On the other hand, despite its unintended antisocial consequences, I love having all this content so accessible these days.  Old books on the web, tablets, ebooks, ipods...I'm devouring these things at a pace I could never do before.

I don't know...I just see more opportunities here and more options, not less.  I've tried to recreate those evenings where we sit around and introduce new music to friends and stuff, that's not that hard.  Invite a bunch of people over and listen to music and drink/eat.  The problem is the people.  My friends mostly don't really give a shit, if I'm being frank.  I feel we are getting bored too easily.  And even that is ok!  Because we're in a great time for that!  If you're bored, go on youtube, or check out a new song or album, or movie, or all sorts of free stuff right in your computer browser there.  But then people start complaining about how it's not good to be in front of a screen for so long.  Look...screen, nose in book, head inside a car engine, who cares?

Anyway, yeah I miss the physical books a little.  But I certainly don't wish to be back in those days.

Regarding how longs things are iconic...this is a more interesting question to me.  Because I often wonder how all this stuff is going to affect the economy once it really becomes mature.  How are most people going to make money in such an environment, especially in capitalist countries?  I have this huge fear that artists and writers and such are not going to be able to make any money without resorting to either other jobs or BS kinds of content creation, even though that fear seems to always have been around with artists/writers, so maybe its an irrational fear.

crabby3

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Re: Is technology killing old loved books?
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2014, 12:25:48 PM »
I view it as just another choice for the reader.  Something new.  An alternative.

Back in the late 90s we listened to The Radio Reader on WLRN-FM at work.  A National Public Radio station (NPR).

Most of the morning programming on that station, Modern Jazz, was pretty distracting so we listened to other stations or 8-tracks until 11am.
That's when the "Consummate Radio Reader... Dick Estell" came on.  Everyone within ear-shot looked forward the next 30 min.

Did this make me want to buy an iPod and listen to books being read to me?  No.  It's just fond memories.

I believe people will do what people do best... please themselves.
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40hz

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Re: Is technology killing old loved books?
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2014, 02:37:15 PM »
I don't think it’s so much the technology as changes in the publishing business and the gradual elimination of the "mid" or "middle list" by most publishers.

If it ain't selling in large quantities (~50K and up), a title is either tossed on the bargain rack or into a shredder fairly quickly these days. New tax rules for how back and mid stock inventory has to be valued also plays a part. Nobody can afford to carry"slow inventory" on their financial books any more.

The end result is that the only books by major publishers that can be sure of survival are the ones that cater to the lowest common denominator. Classic, cult, and niche interest titles disappear fairly quickly after their first press run. So in some respects, electronic editions make many more titles available for longer since there's no production costs or physical inventory to carry. Under this scenario, it actually behoves a publisher to keep their entire catalog available electronically. Something they can't do with paper.

Oh yeah...just for the record, I still prefer paper and enjoy buying and giving away used books. That's something you can't always (or simply or aren't allowed to) do with e-books.

 8)

superboyac

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Re: Is technology killing old loved books?
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2014, 05:32:04 PM »
I don't think it’s so much the technology as changes in the publishing business and the gradual elimination of the "mid" or "middle list" by most publishers.

If it ain't selling in large quantities (~50K and up), a title is either tossed on the bargain rack or into a shredder fairly quickly these days. New tax rules for how back and mid stock inventory has to be valued also plays a part. Nobody can afford to carry"slow inventory" on their financial books any more.

The end result is that the only books by major publishers that can be sure of survival are the ones that cater to the lowest common denominator. Classic, cult, and niche interest titles disappear fairly quickly after their first press run. So in some respects, electronic editions make many more titles available for longer since there's no production costs or physical inventory to carry. Under this scenario, it actually behoves a publisher to keep their entire catalog available electronically. Something they can't do with paper.

Oh yeah...just for the record, I still prefer paper and enjoy buying and giving away used books. That's something you can't always (or simply or aren't allowed to) do with e-books.

 8)
What do you think is the best strategy for hobby writers who want to get their stuff out there, but still would like to make some income?  I'm very curious about this because I really can't tell where we're going with the technology.  I was just talking to a writer friend of mine, who has an agent, and she basically said you are committing career suicide by not going the agent-publisher route.  If you self publish, you will be ostracized from the industry.  I immediately thought "what if the music industry is like this too?"

40hz

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Re: Is technology killing old loved books?
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2014, 08:02:53 PM »

What do you think is the best strategy for hobby writers who want to get their stuff out there

From what I've heard, nobody in the main publishing industry is interested in "hobby" anything. If you're not "writing professionally" they do not want to know you. The reason is because, if they do decide to publish your manuscript, you're expected to be very actively involved in the promotion of your book. That means appearances and book signings. Something that can be hard to arrange if you can't get time off from family responsibilities or your regular job.

There are success stories that are exceptions to this, but those are pretty rare. Most times you're either "all in" or you're out.


I was just talking to a writer friend of mine, who has an agent, and she basically said you are committing career suicide by not going the agent-publisher route.  If you self publish, you will be ostracized from the industry.  I immediately thought "what if the music industry is like this too?"

Since literary agents vet the writers they take on as clients, there's a certain assurance felt by publishers when somebody has an agent. Non-agent submissions to major publishers generally don't get read. Many publishers simply return them with a letter stating they have not not read them. That's because somebody is always suing somebody else for "stealing" their novel once a book hits the best seller list. Some publishers are nice enough to tell you they only buy through an agent they work with and return the manuscript to you postage due. Most just say "thanks - but no thanks," state they haven't so much as looked at what you sent, ask if you want the manuscript returned to you (at your expense), and warn that if you send another unsolicited manuscript, it will be shredded unread.

Smaller publishers throw unsolicited manuscripts into what's called the "slush pile" where they sit unlooked at unless somebody is bored or there's an intern sitting around with nothing to do. Your odds there are about as good as they are hitting the lottery.

The reason self-published writers are such a problem is because people tend to do stupid things when they self-publish. Many times they sign contracts or assign copyrights to e-publishers, or vanity presses, or some company they set up with a "friend" or family member.  That can sometimes prevent a major publisher from getting clear legal rights to publish your work. If you have a contract or "arrangement" with somebody else - even a fairly informal one - the big guys won't waste their time trying to undo your legal messes.

So yes, an agent is a good thing - as long as you get a good agent.

Music, I think, is a little different. A person's talent and skills can be easily determined in less than 5 minutes of listening, whereas you'd need to slog through a book or two worth of output before you could determine if a writer is good enough to be worth an agent's time and effort.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 11:08:38 AM by 40hz »

crabby3

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Re: Is technology killing old loved books?
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2014, 04:55:34 AM »
Anyone ever read this?  http://en.wikipedia....us_on_the_Half-Shell  cool story   :)

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