Monday, September 29, 2008

What Is A Book Worth?

 books on trees There is no intrinsic measure of what a book is worth that really defines what people should pay for an author’s loving work. There has been a lot of buzz on the Internet and in newspapers, magazines and even on radio and TV talk shows about what should be charged for a book. We talk a lot more about such things today than we have in the recent past. Maybe that is just another measure of our current fear of financial ruin.

I still read some newspapers and magazines in their paper form. I also still buy some paper books although I am slowly and reluctantly converting my reading habits to staring at a screen rather than turning a page. I’m studying Spanish using my computer and the package provided by Rosetta Stone instead of books I bought long ago.

The truth about my reading habits is that I have long ago run out of adventure authors and science fiction that meets my standards. A book comes along once in a while that piques my interest but not nearly often enough to fill my insatiable need to read.

Reading fills my time and even occasionally my mind with pleasure, even when the writing is moderately bad I usually find something to enjoy in a book. I have just had to broaden my horizons a bit. Now I read anything that has a story line or a plot that grabs me.

It is as clear to me as to most of you that the whole architecture of the publishing world in undergoing a vast change. From POD to digital books there are so many changes that anyone could have a hard time keeping up with the scorecard of who’s on first and who’s out these days. Amidst it all there is still one obvious fact, people will write even if there is no money in it.

There are over a million bloggers out there and the number is growing rapidly. How many of you were born after the word blog entered the common language? That is the first really huge new form of literary expression in a long time and it is almost always free to the reader. I think that makes my point.

The literary forms and their values are changing rapidly. I am loving this changing world of writing all more than I ever thought I would when I first saw the written word on a digital screen. I won’t even tell you how long ago that was but it was a long time before the word blog entered the language. And is literacy suffering? Not a bit if you pay attention to the fact that every child with a cell phone is writing to their friends every day even if we can’t understand their new language at all!

So what is a book worth? Less than it used to be, if all it does is sit there and wait for you to turn its pages. That is becoming obvious. But maybe a whole lot more if it offers a new vision of what is possible in the new digital world of literary forms and shapes we are building today. I hope you are enjoying these changes as much as I am. It’s a truly brave and interesting new world for those of us who are already living here. Why don’t you join us and try it out?

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