Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The shape of things to come

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Not the most original title, certainly, but it does hit the nail on the head for what I want to say for my last (and sadly) very tardy blog entry for my time as the February WIR here on Open Book Toronto. These words come out of my earlier entries where I kicked around the idea of electronic readers. So here goes. Blechta pontificating. This is only my two cents and you're welcome to agree or disagree as you see fit. I'm only stating what I think.

The publishing industry is going to change very radically over the next few years. Some publishers will see what's coming and embrace it, while others, if they do see it at all, are going to dig in their heels and resist. As the music business has learned very painfully, resistance is futile. The upheaval the music business is going through will be no less severe for the book industry.

1. E-books will become more of the norm than traditional paper. Why? Because it's getting very expensive to publish books and they use a lot of paper. As the world becomes greener, this last thing will matter more and more. For breaking new authors or publishing marginal books, it is much more cost effective to publish electronically. When this is the way publishers decide to present these works, the stigma in this form of distribution will magically vanish. The Kindle shows that the technology for e-books is advancing. Publishers will have to respond. Once e-books become more of the norm, illegal downloads will become rampant. LimeWire for book lovers, anyone?

2. POD (print on demand) will become a big option for publishers. Why? Because it will eliminate the need for warehousing so many books -- or printing them in the first place. It's really sad when books are remaindered. So much paper and energy has been squandered needlessly. POD is becoming more and more refined, so if a publisher needs, say, 100 books to fill an order, they can print those up cost effectively using this technology. Books never need to go out of print any more, either. That's a Very Good Thing for publishers as well as authors. If publishers banded together on this, they could even force booksellers to give up what is really the most stupid idea in the business world: fully returnable books. Name another business where retailers are supplied with stock, keep it for several months (and probably not pay for it), then send it back if it doesn't sell? POD could be the way to get rid of this practice.

I could go on, but it's time to wrap this up. My time as February Writer-in-Residence is long over. If you've read any of my missives, great. Even if you didn't like what I've written, thanks for stopping by.

Don't worry about the light. I'll turn it off when I leave.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Rick Blechta

Rick Blechta is the author of the novels Knock On Wood, The Lark Ascending, Shooting Straight in the Dark, Cemetery of the Nameless, and When Hell Freezes Over. A Case of You, his latest novel, will be published in the spring of 2008 with Rendezvous Press.

Go to Rick Blechta’s Author Page