In case you missed it, residents of Los Angeles just engaged in the twenty-first century’s first “John Henry” battle. Several bicyclists, walkers, and public transportation enthusiasts battled — and beat — a commuter plane from Burbank to Long Beach.
Having just set down a frazzled paperback copy of Truman Capote, I’m experiencing a bit of this tech v. tradition tension myself. I love the Kindle, but still wonder if it will really improve on — or defeat — the paper-based book.
But that pondering is meaningless. The last thing any writer needs to do, unless his or her name is Rowling, is worry too much about the nostalgia, ethics, or the future of publishing. A few loyalists, such as Sherman Alexie, have sworn off epublishing. Most of us don’t need to pick sides. We just want to get read, and if that means people first read us on a blog or iPad, that’s fine.
So, I made my first ovation to ebooks by releasing my children’s book, A Year in the Life of Lance Sandersen, on Amazon. It’s not much of a challenge. The print edition (done through on-demand printing and still in need of a “real” publisher) has sold poorly — an insult to poorly-selling books everywhere. So far, the Kindle edition, in its first week of life, has, well, not sold. But there’s hope. And there’s accessibility.
And now the race is on. Can a print version of a book no one will ever read beat a cheap ($.99) electronic version of a book no one will ever read? These are the questions made possible by good day jobs.