As is only appropriate for someone writing about technology, publishing, and audience development, I’ve been posting all of these French Study Trip posts on my Facebook account as well. Personally, I don’t imagine anyone ever reads these (did you see that one yesterday? It was like the War & Peace of abstracted publishing babble!), but actually, yesterday evening two friends posted a few interesting questions that I thought I’d share here (this is digital cross-pollination) to help foster a conversation.
First off, Robert Richardson (I worked with Robert at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids, MI some years back) asked about who would have access to eBooks: “Did you talk much about how eBooks and eBook publishing may reinforce and expand a global class system via the digital divide?”
A: We actually didn’t talk about this, but it’s a really good point. I still believe print books and eBooks will co-exist, but if they co-exist like CDs and digital music . . . well, that could be a problem. Although it’s likely that e-reading devices will drop in cost, cell phones will be used for this as well, and eBook prices will be lower than printed books. (More on that issue on Thursday.) So maybe . . .
Douglas Carlsen from Whitman College Bookstore brought up a ton of good points: “Some random thoughts – If Indie and Corporate publishers value books for different reasons – your aesthetic/profit dichotomy – then must it necessarily follow that one cannot amplify the other? If brand means no sales – this must mean no readers. If no one is reading a particular work, was it worth printing? What is worth worth? Will the . . . Read More accessibility of ebooks reduce the cost of such works making them more likely to be read and make them more “worth” publishing? What value (aesthetic/profit) is any work that is not read? From the profit point of view none, from the aesthetic some – but, in the end from either point of view, troubling. It comes down to a question – “can we justify our value?”. If accessibility by way of ebooks enhances readership at an aesthetic level then what? Yet will anyone read – let us say for argument – Gravity’s Rainbow as an ebook? or Ulysses? or The Ephemera of a Maid’s Dreaming? What is lost what is gained. Does Reader have more import in the process than publisher, or distributor, or bookseller? Or is all a matter of point of view? But it was noted that there was little of note on the author. Without the author’s endeavors there are no works to read. Can an ebook go directly from author to reader? Yes, of course, but what of the aesthetic/profit issue for author? Are those efforts worth it without value? Ah, to be read. If to write to be read were all, what then? The end.”
I have no answers for this . . . yet. Although to be honest, the author comes back into my rambling posts on Friday . . .
Anyway, chime in below. This should be a discussion—after days of debating and questioning and speculating in Paris, I’m not sure we really figured out jack, except to say that things were changing and that this is scary and filled with opportunities. But I’d rather hear what you think.
“Rambling Jack—what’s that?”
“A novel. Novella, I guess.”
“Yeah, it looks short. What is it, a hundred pages?”
“Sorta. It’s a duel language book, so really, only about… 50 pages total.”
“And this—what. . .
Many authors are compared to Roberto Bolaño. However, very few authors have the privilege of having a Roberto Bolaño quote on the cover of their work; and at that, one which states, “Good readers will find something that can be. . .
In Josep Maria de Sagarra’s Private Life, a man harangues his friend about literature while walking through Barcelona at night:
When a novel states a fact that ties into another fact and another and another, as the chain goes on. . .
César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .
Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .
Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .
Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .
For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .