One of the benefits to studying natural systems is the insight it gives to social and economic structures. And this year, I'm observing a series of events that suggest we're at the tipping point in publishing. The latest: the liquidation of book giant Borders. Lots have blogged and analyzed what this portends. One of the best posts can be found at the Gathered Stories blog.
While defenders of the old order will come out in droves to justify Borders' demise as a sign of anything but the overall decline of traditional print publishing, the writing's on the wall. Actually, the writing's on the tablet, Nook, Kindle, and whatever other electronic device that will support e-readers. Want proof? I'll spare you stats, and give you my satori last week instead:
I'm listening to a book on my commute, half way through, and it's overdue at the library. But I'm into the story now, so I weigh the cost of the overdue fines over the cost of buying the bestseller new at Barnes & Noble. In my hand I hold the beautiful volume. I check out its price. I put it back and leave with a mag instead. Mind you, I make good money in my day job, enough to bitch about taxes even though I'm a tax-loving liberal. And I read dozens of books, fiction and non, each year. I write books. But my biggest book expense is overdue book fines. Why? My shelves are crowded with books I read once and won't again. See, the value of the book is in the story it contains. So guess what's on my birthday wish list?
Kindle or Nook.
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