Today I awoke to a changed world. That seems to be happening a lot lately. So much is different this week than was last year.
Yesterday we received the news that Borders was liquidating. Over 11,000 employees will be without jobs by the end of September. That’s, of course, not counting the hundreds who have already lost their jobs due to the store closings.
Many authors, such as Joe Konrath on his blog A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, have predicted the close of many brick and mortar stores due to the advent and success of eBook Publishing and Self Publishing. Both of these avenues afford authors the opportunity to publish works that otherwise established Traditional Publishing houses wouldn’t normally take on. In essence, one could almost say that because of the inflexible approach that the old guard has taken over the past few decades, as well as the inevitable forward momentum of progress, tens of thousands of people will be out of a job in the coming years.
While I believe that ePub and Self Pubbing are fantastic, I also believe that we must keep in mind the negative impacts that they have. Not just the amount of bad manuscripts which are available now, but the fact that this will have a negative impact on an already unstable economic situation here in the U.S. Yes, I could pay $130 for a Kindle and then purchase books at a lesser price than if I were to purchase at Borders or Barnes and Nobles. I could also find older books that are no longer in print as well as have the book immediately, versus having to wait for it to arrive or for me to drive a few blocks to go get it. However, I can’t help but think of the people who work in bookstores, printing presses, and paper mills that will lose their livelihood so that all of us can have the instant gratification of publishing our work.
While it is true that progress always has victims, and I am not saying that we shouldn’t utilize EP and SP (after all, I plan to), I do think that while we are patting ourselves on the back for having published a book that Random House would probably reject, we should take a moment to think of and thank those who have made it possible through the years for books to exist at all.
I have a library of books in my apartment that I treasure. I love the feel of a book in my hand taking me away from the everyday life. I dream of building a house with a room with built-in shelves along all four walls. I am hopeful that physical books will stay around for a few more decades at least, so that I can see that dream come true. Yes, I will eventually purchase a Kindle, however, for now, I am content to carry and read a physical version of “The Count of Monte Cristo” and other favorites.

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