The end is not nigh

In “The death of books has been greatly exagerated,” Lloyd Shepherd looks at the anecdotal evidence many publishing doomsayers present and notes that it’s not as bad as it seems.

What does all this data add up to? Hardly an industry in its death throes, so one must ask why there are so many long faces about the place. Let’s not be naive. These are times of massive change, and change is never, ever comfortable. The retail sector worries publishers and authors alike; in the past year, publishers have lost Woolworth, Borders and British Bookshops as sales channels and, as Kate Pool from the Society of Authors says: “The increasing dominance of Amazon (as retailer, increasingly as publisher, as owner of the Kindle, etc) is potentially very worrying.”This, combined with the emergence of digital technology, creates enormous uncertainty. It’s a fact that the transition to digital devices will mean greater efficiencies and more focus on cost and, overall, a rather less generouspublishing industry than before; a rather colder-hearted, fiercer one. The old world is fading, the new world isn’t yet in focus. When newspapers and music faced this moment, there was a significant tendency to become hugely angry that the old world in which we were all so comfortable was being “swept away”. It’s almost impossible for someone who has spent decades working in a calm, creative environment not to be enraged by the sight of American technology companies tipping everything
on its head.

But let’s not overdo things. Let’s not lose sight of the data we have, and let’s not invent data when we only have anecdotes. And finally, let’s not forget the wonders this new world opens up.

It’s an interesting and reassuring read.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

ChiZine: Supergod Mega-Issue!

After a hiatus to revamp the zine’s website, ChiZine (aka Chiaroscoro: Treatment of Light and Shade in Words) is back with a gianormous issue of awesome (which will play out over several weeks), featuring tons of fiction and poetry by alumni of the webzine.

I’m thrilled that ChiZine is back. It’s one of the few webzines that I obsessively check for new poetry and fiction. The quality is consistently fabulous and I always find myself intrigued by what’s presented.

Which is why I am honored that my poem “Beware of Attics” has been included in the mega-issue — an issue that happens to include a short story by one of my favorite authors Neil Gaiman. Yeeeeee! I am in a magazine alongside Neil Gaiman! OMG! OMG!

*deep breath*

Okay, I’m fine now.

This issue is intended to help them raise money to keep the webzine going, so head on over, and if you like what you see, consider making a donation.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

Thoughts on Book Pirating

Sandra Mitchell has a blog up about how illegal downloading affects authors*. She presents some specific numbers that she’s seen from her first book, Shadowed Summer, revealing the clear and discernible effect pirating had on authors. The comments reveal that other authors have had similar experiences in regards to pirating.

Here’s a quote from her blog that paints a vivid picture of just how much pirating has affected her earnings and her career:
“If even HALF of those people who downloaded my book that week had bought it, I would have hit the New York Times Bestseller list.

If the 800+ downloads a week of my book were only HALF converted into sales, I would earn out in one more month. But I’m never going to earn out. And my book is never going to be available in your $region, not for lack of trying.”

This kind of thing breaks my heart when I hear it for a couple reasons. One, because I love book and I love authors, and I want authors to write books that I love and be able to make a living doing it. It would never occur to me to pirate an author’s book. I have too much respect for the work that goes in to it. I firmly believe authors have a right to earn money for the work they produce (in fact, sometimes I even feel a wee guilty about using the library, instead of buying my own copy of a book, but that’s me). If they don’t earn that money, if they don’t get a certain level of numbers, then there is a very good chance they will not be able to publish their next book — what a depressing thought.

Another reason is I am hoping to someday soon complete a book that I will want to publish. When I do so I am hoping to earn money from publishing said book, and I am hoping to be able to publish many, many books thereafter. It’s very disheartening to think that some of the joy of that experience could one day be robbed from me because of illegal downloading. (I know, I know, I’m not there yet to be worrying about this kind of thing, but I can’t help it.)

So, I know I’m probably preaching to the choir, but seriously, don’t illegally download copies of books, people. If you really can’t afford it, Sandra Mitchell presents some alternatives to pirating, such as going to the library or requesting a review copy from the publisher.

*which I found the link for through [info]mizkit‘s rather awesome blog.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]