My Thoughts

Communication technology has come a long way since the Sumerians marked handheld clay tablets with sticks. Then they put them into their pizza oven so the tablets were like baked bricks. They have endured thousands of years. Then ink technology changed it all. First on vellum (stretched animal skin) then on papyrus papers. The first person to stack loose leaf papyrus sheets was Julius Caesar. He bound the first books but only because there was ink. Centuries later, the printing press emerged. Probably in China but usually Gutenberg is credited with it.

Now we print with lazer not ink. We write with a keyboard not a pen. Some people like me still keyboard with two fingers, although we all communicate with two thumbs!

Technological change has disrupted the Book Trade. The hierarchy of reader, bookseller, wholesaler, publisher, literary agent and author has been shuffled like a deck of cards. We watch as we play to see how it will turn out. As an author, I can now draw much nearer to the readers. I can get my book into a format called the "universal book link". This only has to be loaded into a machine, then presto! A book drops out of the machine like an egg out of a chicken.

Thus the roles and relationships in the Book Trade are being shaken up. Big time. We now speak of "traditional publishers" and "Indies". I have had two of my books published and I have self-published eight. But holding a flash drive in my hand with ten books saved on it, I feel like Jack. He traded the family milch cow for a few beans. But as of yet the beanstalk is still growing. I will climb it seeking the golden egg. I may have to slay a few giants on the way.

The meanest giant is that the Book Trade has been taken over. There is a new ethos. Sort of like universities which no longer have the look and feel of my generation. Education has gone crazy too. Even the media is suffering from this dominance. Here's the challenge — retailing books in spite of all this selectivity. Marshall McLuhan said the medium is the message. I say the media filters the message. So there is a growing need for Indies, not east or west but authors. Self-publishing is part of the solution. Think "reconquista".