The Kindle experiment

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.


2 thoughts on “The Kindle experiment

  1. Hmmmmmm, Some good points, but all writers have to be concerned that in the conflagration that is the e-book binge, that very poorly edited, produced and POOR material will flood the market. A reader revolt could result when being faced with more manure than is present in a NYC sewer. It could pave the way to further contraction of the industry paving the way for one or two entities to have their feet on the throats of all authors. Not good.

  2. Great points. This is part of the fear, the good and bad of the disappearing gatekeepers. As a person with his share of rejection letters, I want to cheer the new era. However, those rejections have improved my writing. Also, as a reader, I’m thankful for the editors and publishers who shape and limit — as much as possible — the deluge of poorly executed material.
    Ultimately, there will need to be a new set of gatekeepers to control and recommend the flood of material. Otherwise, a “NYC sewer” of manure is an understatement.
    (Thanks for the thoughts.)

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