I've been binge-blogging these past couple of weeks while on a writing break.
After a long period of trying not to blog because I had to finish writing my novel, I crawled out of the Writer's Cave and blogged here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
But now I've got edits to do so I'm back in the Cave again. If anyone asks, I'm not here ;)
I've been thinking about golden ages recently after hearing Helen Mirren on the radio talking about cinema's Golden Age being that transition between silent films and sound when nobody knew what to expect from the new technologies and so ANYTHING could happen.
(Dame Helen's starring in a new movie about Hitchcock who famously straddled those two eras)
The idea of Golden Ages made me wonder if, with the digital revolution, we were going through several golden ages now.
Has the advent of mp3 downloads and discoverability via YouTube ushered in a musical Golden Age?
With the video-streaming company Netflix now in the business of premiering major drama series like House of Cards, are we entering a TV golden age?
News delivery has been transformed by social media, news platforms like the Huffington Post, and instant access online newspapers - is journalism entering a Golden Age?
And what of the book world - with revolutionary self-publishing technology, e-books and the shift from bookshops to online?
We scratch our heads and often discuss these developments as problematic ... but wait - are we missing something? Have we in the book world entered a Golden Age but have been too busy fussing about change to notice?
Michael Pietsch, soon to be CEO of Hachette, seems to think so. "I think we're in a Golden Age for books — reading, writing and publishing,' he said in an NPR interview. 'And the ways that publishers can work to connect readers with writers now are the kinds of things that publishers have dreamt of doing since Gutenberg first put down a line of type."
The comments under that Pietsch interview are fascinating. 'R Evening Star' says the issue is not whether e-books will kill traditional publishing but HOW e-books are changing the industry.
eBooks haven't made big publishers obsolete and they haven't suddenly diminished the quality of literature any more than the introduction of trade paperbacks many decades ago. EBooks have, however, given mid-list authors and new authors another option, another open door, another way forward.And yet, it seems authors continue to fight the fight to get published by a traditional publisher. Asked why authors still prefer the traditional route, Pietsch replied: 'For marketing. They want someone who can help them take what they've created and get it everywhere.'
Pietsch drew a response from the editorial director of Digital Book World, Jeremy Greenfield who pointed to a survey of 5,000 authors by DBW and Writer's Digest in late 2012, questioning them extensively 'about what they thought was important in the publishing process and what factors influenced their decision to go with a traditional publisher or to self-publish'. You can view an excerpt of their findings in this piece titled Why do Authors Choose Traditional Publishing or Self Publishing? (I think they must mean 'over' self publishing because the findings try to pinpoint what advantage a traditional published book has over a self published book)
The answer to the question of the title didn't put Marketing at number one - but reflected the greatest challenge facing self publishers.
1 Wide Distribution
2 Distribution into Bookstores
Discussions of self publishing vs traditional publishing often lead to unbearable confrontations - with one side doing down the other in order to emerge on top. Personally I find such confrontation unbearable and a turn off.
So last week it was refreshing to hear industry pundits sounding excited and optimistic about the future, believing that traditional publishing would be revitalized by self publishing. Read the closing quotes of my blog post last week.
Apparently you don't know you're in a Golden Age until it's long over. A Golden Age happens when people embrace new technologies, lead change, escape the limitations of experience, experiment, imagine beyond their wildest dreams.
How amazing would it be if we really were on the brink of a Golden Age in books. Can we do it?