Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Lori Wilde: A Book By Any Other Name
All you have to do is download a book on your e-reader or computer and boom—we are in direct communication. Magic. What was once the stuff of science fiction is now our daily reality. The invention of the E-reader is the biggest thing to hit publishing since Gutenberg’s movable type.
The paradigm has shifted. The revolution has begun. There’s no going back to the old ways.
As with all change, it’s a mixed blessing. To some the change is frightening. To others, exhilarating. For every positive there is a negative. For every dark shadow exists a bright sun. Some mourn the old days. Others fearlessly embrace the new. Most fall somewhere in between.
When I was a girl living on a farm, I’d tuck a book under my arm, escape from my three younger brothers by heading down to the creek and climbing my favorite tree. It was a Chinaberry with a thick branch shaped like an L. I’d nestle back in the nook of that tree, stretch out my legs and slip into the story. When I got hot, I could flip the book upside down over the limb and drop down into the creek to cool off. Future budding authors can’t take that risk with their E-readers. Water and electronics don’t well miss. Then again, they wouldn’t have to trudge all the way to the house to get a new book when they finished the old one.
Do we really have to chose digital over print? Can both still co-exist? For publishing, it’s the new Wild West and we’re holding our collective breaths to see how it shakes out.
But when you get down to it the only thing that’s really changed is the delivery system. Our communication is more immediate, true, but walk through the aisle of any bookstore and reach out your hand. You could be transported to a whaling vessel via Herman Melville or find yourself watching a mongoose and cobra battle through the words of Rudyard Kipling. Mark Twain will take you down his Mississippi or Harry Potter will show you around wizard school. You can dance macabre with Stephen King or have bounty hunting fun with Stephanie Plum.
Now, you can simply push a button and get those same stories anywhere, any time. (Even in a Chinaberry tree if you have 3G) Convenient. Ecological. Instant gratification.
While the future might be scary, there is one thing we can always count. Stories matter. Whether printed on paper or nestled in our e-reader, stories are never going away. Stories have power. They entertain, provoke, enlighten. Stories enrich the fabric of our lives. Stories create a sense of wonder. They show us that the world is a much larger place than we ever imagined.
But you already knew that, didn’t you? Because you’re here with me, reading the words that I have written on the magic of technology. We need each other to make this story thing work.
Your e-book is our time machine. Stories are our guide. The universe—past, present and future—belongs to us. Isn’t it a great time to be alive? Where would you like to go?
Posted by Lee Hyat at 12:35 AM