Roman Sturgis Take care of each other and make good decisions.

September 14, 2009

Near Death Experience and More Thoughts on Publishing.

Filed under: Blog — Roman @ 9:22 pm

Greetings from the land of the living. Today I came THIS close to electrocuting myself in the pursuit of my HVAC certificate.

In lab, we were wiring three light bulbs in a parallel circuit with a switch. I had done mine one way, which was correct, but I saw another student who had done his ANOTHER way, so of course I had to take a closer look. His board was energized and I was pointing to the power source and, well, let’s just say that even though I didn’t touch it, I came pretty close and everyone around me made a big deal about it. Very embarrassing. Sort of like slicing your finger open while cubing butter right after expertly sharpening said knife. (That happened about three weeks ago, at High Hammock–my finger nail still has a nasty cut in it.)

Pat Conroy (“Prince of Tides,” “Lords of Discipline”) was in the bookstore for a signing on Saturday. His new book is “South of Broad.” It is next on the stack after I finish “Native Son” by Richard Wright (who happens to be on a commemorative 61 cent stamp at the moment). Why hadn’t I read “Native Son” before? Why didn’t I teach it while I was at TMA? Anyway, it’s helping me revise the novel project. I love the first person narrative Wright uses. I get lost in it—pretty much the best thing you can hope for from a book or a movie, right? So after Conroy the signing, the shop is pretty much closed and we’re shooting the bull with this awesome South Carolina writer who has just signed personalized messages for more than four hours without a bathroom break, and I’m just totally in awe. Turns out our little independent bookstore outsold his previous event in Atlanta, and Conroy is thrilled with it. Not bad, huh? Something that was said that stuck with me: during a conversation about publishing and printers, “Amazon is just killing the big publishers.” This was agreed upon by the owners of the store and the author. I hadn’t ever really thought about it that way. Killing the independent bookstore, sure, we’ve all heard about that. Pretty much Barnes and Noble is the only store capable of standing up to Amazon, is what I’ve heard.

Got me thinking…during this extended recession, some publishers will die. That is certain. What will happen to them, though? Either other big publishers will buy them up, or more likely, Amazon and Barnes and Nobel take them. This might be accelerated by books made available online through Google and the Kindle (etc.) though I’m not so sure that the digital book is really going to KILL printed books altogether. Readers prefer paper and ink because there’s less eye strain and we like to display books on a shelf. The big question I have is: How will this effect my publishing aspirations?

I don’t know. But I HOPE what happens lowers barriers to entry. I would be willing to take on more responsibility in promoting my book in exchange for better chances to publish. And I would be willing to publish online for free, or close to free, for the opportunity to earn interest in purchasing a real book. I see the way the music and film industry has struggled with piracy. Those mediums are digital to begin with. A book can be put online, but we don’t experience it the same way as we do a book in hand. Especially for a long story. So who cares if the whole text is on your website, available for download in a Microsoft Word document? The product readers pay for is the high-quality printed and bound material, which only special companies can make.

The biggest challenge will be to find surviving publishers that can make a profit printing small to medium batches at a cost that’s affordable enough to sell at a reasonable price to the consumer. Nowadays, everybody seems to want more for less, and free is even better. Are we entering an age where novelists write just to write, publish online for free, and make their money some other clever way???

You see why I’m doing HVAC.

1 Comment »

  1. likely that usa printing may not survive , worldwide low cost involves speaking chinese.
    if printing there in small batches, will need outstanding quality control for high end book product

    Comment by rob — September 24, 2009 @ 9:57 am

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