I know I have been a little distracted by video games lately, in particular retro video games. In truth I have been indulging my nostalgia a little more than the law allows. Get me an eye patch and a Parrot named Mr. Stubbs because I’ve been trolled the deep waters of a pirate life. To the end, I came across an interesting article on the Penny Arcade. http://www.penny-arcade.com/report/article/nintendo-isnt-losing-to-the-ouyas-high-quality-emulation-of-classic-games-i
The interesting bit I took away from this was the quote from Valve’s Gabe Newell who once said that, “Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem.” That started me thinking. What is the chain of events that allow our works to go from our heads into readers’ hands. In the past the independent writer typed up the pages, running them by a Kinko’s after which he or she would fill up the trunk of his or her car with copies to distribute. A little less further further back and it would be paying a small publisher and then getting a trunk full of bound books. Now we can upload a file to our publisher, let’s call them, Amazon, and 24 hours later you can still order a trunk full of books. See the problem isn’t getting a copy of your work to sell it is getting it someplace to sell, a service problem. The challenge is still getting the books someplace where readers can read or buy them. That is the service problem we as independents have.
Traditional publishing encompasses the production of a book but more importantly holds the apparatus for getting said book into readers’ eager hands. From whipping people up into a frenzy for it to making sure the bookstores have stacks on hand in all the key locations of the store, this is the one service that technology has not taken away from traditional publishing. But the technology has shaken the tree hard enough that bits and pieces are falling down to where independent writers can make use of them.
We are already use to the bookstore as publisher, hello Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but did you know the library may, one day, also be your publisher. When you think about it, what is more likely to be in your town a library or a Barnes and Noble, we’ll pretend the internet doesn’t exist otherwise this thought experiment fails. But even in that libraries have made their presence felt in cyberspace and their legions of users know just where to click for the latest books. As libraries struggle to meet costs for e-content amid shrinking budgets the turn to local writers and home grown content is looking like a promised land for them. Are we writers up to the challenge? Only time will tell.
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