Why Do We Cling To Books?

Okay, I don’t know what Rachelle has planned for Part 3, but her analogy relating Eastman Kodak’s demise to the current state of the book publishing industry may be the most well-packaged point of view I’ve read on the subject in years. This is a re-post of my comments on her site.


As a writer, why the hell do I even want to formally pursue publishing?

If readers don’t care about “books”, why should I?

Why even trust e-books as some new endpoint? Why stop there?

Is there a better, and more profitable, way to reach an audience than books?

I’d like to make a living — in the age of free, what are people actually willing to pay for?

You say [EDIT: Rachelle says] this is a business of storytelling. Is it? Are you sure it isn’t the business of laughter inducement? Tear-jerking? Pulse-raising? Button-pushing? Thought provocation? Seriously, does anyone really care if Harry kills Voldemort? Or do we only care about how WE will feel if/when it happens?

I write kids’ poetry. How many better ways can I think of to sell and distribute poems in a low-attention, instant consumption world than in a static collection that takes years to write and publish? Probably dozens! Hundreds!

Why is “publishing” the end all be all of a writer’s existence? I don’t need a book. I need readers. I don’t even need “readers”. I need people. To read, sure, but to listen, watch, play, push, print, touch, feel, tear it in half, tell a friend, tweet it, retweet it, re-write it, do WHATEVER THEY WANT TO DO with it.

The book is now the most limited form imaginable.

Why do we cling to it?

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