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Hereford Eye
January 18th, 2006, 12:25 PM
For almost five thousand years, we have preserved and transmitted information through the media of writing, whether the writing was heiroglyphics, idiograms, script, or printing. It got easier with typewriters and typesetting but, perhaps, maybe times have changed. I'm too lazy to research the publishing numbers - I rely on Catherine the Great for that kind of information - but I came across a thought, suggested by Prof J. Rufus Fears at the Univ of Oklahoma, that maybe technology has overtaken writing, that people are beginning to no longer read books, that their information is acquired through imagery: movies, television, computer and video games.
I know I still get most of my information from reading. Yes, I frequently watch the evening news but if something is presented there that interests me, I go to the internet to research it further. Then, I go buy some books. Realistically, though, I know my 'knowledge' has been influenced by the imagery.
I still go to movies and I know that movies affect my 'knowledge' base. Spielberg gave me additional insight to the politics of violence with Munich and Goblet of Fire reinforced my appreciation of French females, their entrance being what I thought was the best scene in the movie. <Before you scream, I know that is sexist, biased, and not real bright, but I'm a guy who grew up on the legend of French post cards, Gigi, Henry Miller, and Heinlein so you have to cut me a little slack in the politically correct department. >

Does that mean that our hope to get published becomes more and more remote every year? Should we change our orientation from writing books to writing scripts for the visual arts? Are bookstores truly a vanishing breed?

January 18th, 2006, 12:50 PM
People have been predicting the downfall of books for decades now, and it still hasn't happened yet. More books are published now than ever. According to Locus Magazine, more science fiction, fantasy and horror books are being published now than ever as well. At least, that was my recollection from the last Year in Review issue I read: the next one is coming out this February.

Bookstores aren't a vanishing breed, but the mom and pop ones are. Nowadays most books are bought at the big chains or online.

Does that mean that our hope to get published becomes more and more remote every year?

I think that publishing is changing to a more democratic form due to the increased feasibility of self-publishing and the online marketplace. Informed consumers do not have to rely as much on what is at the local bookstore and have many more avenues online in which to learn about books they may enjoy and where to purchase them. The same thing can be seen in the proliferation of independent record labels over the past thirty years. However, the big publishers will remain big as long as the big chain stores remain popular.

January 18th, 2006, 05:49 PM
There have always been some form of visual entertainment, but I don't expect books to ever disappear forever.

January 18th, 2006, 06:43 PM
As long as there is written language, there will be books. Whether they are about elves in some far away land, or how to cope with an infatuation with French women (oh-la-la), someone will always want to read it in print, on a page. The screen is just not a good medium for reading long passages of text.

January 18th, 2006, 06:53 PM
Does that mean that our hope to get published becomes more and more remote every year? Should we change our orientation from writing books to writing scripts for the visual arts? Are bookstores truly a vanishing breed?

I don't think so at all. But maybe it's time we started thinking about evolving. We are kind of stuck in the past. One of the things that strikes me about books is they're so ... static. Once the book is published and put on paper, that's it. It's never gonna change again.

Is there a different way?

Have you ever gotten to book 3 or 5 in a series and thought, the author has really gone off track here? I wish I could drop him a line and put in my two cents worth before the damage gets any worse.

Or what about feedback in general? Have you ever wanted to be able to give an author feedback and tell him/her - give me more of Character X! I must have more! And dump that loser from Chaper 6!

Why can't novels be more fluid? As a writer myself, I have often envied other artists, especially street performers, who get instant feedback on their work. Wouldn't it be nice to know that a particular angle isn't working - before you spend the next 12 months of your life on it?

What if we writers broke away from the publishers' soul-crushing hammerlock (more of this rant in a later thread) on our art and put our works on out websites? But not just put them out there the way we always do - here it is. Like it or hate it, it's too late. The thing is done.

I'm thinking we could post our stories in chunks as we went along, periodically releasing a complete book when we thought we had one. Those who want to just read the finished work could wait for the whole book. Those who want to be part of the process could read the chunks and then respond to them.

We could even (and here I go heretical) go back to earlier books in the series and change parts to better set up what happens later in the story (of course posting version info - this is version 2.3, see changes in Chapter 2).

Do you think our audience would appreciate our work more if they got to be part of the process?

January 18th, 2006, 09:25 PM
I still go to movies and I know that movies affect my 'knowledge' base.

Personally I am excited about all the new movies coming out in Fantasy. I heard someone say this will be the generation of fantasy in cinema. I believe that! Look at LOR, Narnia, Harry Potter! It's begun! Funny thing though, I've read all those books! Even better, I heard Da Vinici Code is coming out in the theatre so I am currently reading Angels and Deamons by Dan Brown, the prequel to the Da Vinci Code. Next I will read DVC before I see the movie. I wonder how many people that have never been into Fantasy have invested 2-3 hours of thier time to see one of the movies and decided Fantasy might not be only for children. Perhaps they will pick up a book becasue of it?
Sorry ya'll my goal in life is to convert all souls into avid fantasy readers. :D

by Ericknight: Do you think our audience would appreciate our work more if they got to be part of the process?

While that is a great idea, I don't think it would be feasable in the USA. Too many people here are lawyer happy! Call me a nerd... but I read a book on Mercedes Lackey (may have been talking about MZBradley, her friend). She was sued once because a "fan" wrote in some fanmail that she should write a story about __x__. It was a logical topic for a book, like the creation of her land. long-story-short: if she published her story she would have had to pay him part of her royalties. So she trashed the story instead.

January 18th, 2006, 10:03 PM
Book publishing has always been democratic, not that the Web hasn't had significant effects on things. I've heard that written fiction will disappear for as long as I can remember. Since we are a storytelling species, I don't know that it's likely. About 60% of the movies produced are based on a novel or short story at this point, and a good chunk of t.v. as well. And despite the fact that paper novels are archaic and often don't stick around long, more people seem to want to write them than ever before. Although there is much whining and gnashing of teeth over how the Internet is destroying everybody's brains, most of the Internet is at the moment highly text-based.

The idea that technology outstrips things seems to be a popular one. Technology outstrips science fiction -- even though it hasn't yet -- so sf is dead. Technology outstrips printing, so we'll have a paperless office, except we don't. Paper waste is the biggest general waste problem we have -- or at least it was a few years ago.

Back in the early 1990's, the electronic reader was suppose to kill the printed book off. Problem is, people didn't like them and they weren't cheap enough to produce. It's hard for human eyes to read screen print for hours and hours, to take a reader into the bathtub, etc. For the moment, people seem to like printed books. Though I hear the electronic reader is trying to make a comeback and with all the IPod craziness, perhaps it will. But the Web printing set-ups and online mags are more likely.

We don't know what the future is going to bring. We may all die of plague. But we do know from history that everytime there is a technical development, publishing tends to make use of it somehow. Hopefully, that trend will continue.

January 18th, 2006, 10:05 PM
Movies are fine for quick hit entertainment, but it is rare to find one that matches the depth of a well-written book.

I do regret the industry's unwritten law of hooking the reader on the first sentence, however. The first paragraph should be interesting, but in the end it's kind of cheap to have a body flying off a bridge, or ducking a whistling blade, etc. etc. -- without first caring about the character(s), at least enough to despise them.

One thing to be drawn into the story, another to have it thrust upon you without giving a damn first.

Rocket Sheep
January 18th, 2006, 10:05 PM
The world always has and always will need stories in some form, HE.

If you're a writer, write them. If you're a film maker, film them. If you're a cartoonist, draw them. It doesn't matter how they get created, other people can move them to a different format. I used to write cartoons for Hullabaloo... someone else drew them.

PS. Shop at privately-owned bookstores!

January 18th, 2006, 10:15 PM
Writing is all about ideas. That won't go away.

Change however, is inevitable. I think that we may have less people making a living as professional authors in the near future. But with POD companies out there, I think that access to actually having a novel published is increasing and this trend will continue.