Put Down That Book!

News, trends, and the future of publishing
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Susan Quinn
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Put Down That Book!

Post by Susan Quinn » January 14th, 2010, 6:09 pm

I hope to never hear myself say those words to Dark Omen (aka son#1) or Worm Burner (aka son#2). Notwithstanding the benefits of going outside to play, the most important thing I can do is put books in their small hands.

The tsunami of writers that looms over agents and editors, according to Nathan’s latest finger in the wind, may have many sources. We could speculate all day on the causes—high unemployment, increased access to the internet, the “overnight” success of <insert mega author here>, a certain agent’s very orangish blog.

But what effect will these unwashed masses of amateur authors have on the literary landscape in the years to come?

As I polish off my crystal ball, I see two paths for this phenomenon of everyday writers.

First, a post e-pocalyptic dystopia where everyone’s a writer, but no one’s a reader. In this frightening near-future, readers are scarce, auctioning off their services to the highest bidder on E-book-bay, or being courted on the latest reality TV show, Who Wants to Have A Reader, where writers are mercilessly cut, round-robin-style, until only one remains. That lucky writer will score the coveted reader, who will spend approximately 2 hours skimming the novelist’s dream work on an Apple Awesome (version 2.0). They’ll warm themselves by a fire of blazing remaindered paper books of novelists-past.


Second, a future where every writer grows a reader, or three, thereby ensuring the continued survival of the writer species. In this rosier future-is-now scenario, legions of people spend untold hours crafting their novel. The friend from college, the babysitter, even the postman all have a memoir/mangst/bestseller WIP, complete with sexy leprechauns and demon librarians. Then, something unexpected happens: readers are born. Children see their mother, father, aunts and uncles, toiling over their netbooks—and discover that books might be cool after all. Even as vanity-self-e-publishing flourishes and causes upheaval in the publishing industry, newly Espresso-ed books are passed around hand-to-hand and find their way into the hands of diminutive readers. A child is inspired to read Uncle Tommy’s book because, well, Uncle Tommy wrote it and he’s a really swell guy. Then Uncle Tommy points junior in the direction of five more books that a cool teen boy could read without being tagged as a loser. Ten years later, cool teen boy grows up to be a cool twenty five year old guy, capable of finding his own books. And he still reads Uncle Tommy’s books because, well, he’s Uncle Tommy and he’s still a really swell guy.

I know which future I’m hoping for.

I choose to imagine an optimistic future, where every writer grows a reader. So, Dark Omen, go ahead and read that book, when I should send you outside to play. The writer you save may be your own mother.

How are you, dear readers, growing future readers and keeping the e-pocalyse at bay?

p.s. see my thread on the Forums! Forums! Forums! - Keeping Boys Reading
Susan Kaye Quinn (young adult and middle grade author)

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Re: Put Down That Book!

Post by kaykaybe » January 14th, 2010, 6:30 pm

So, what you're saying is I need to have more nieces and nephews if I want to make it in publishing? ;)

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Re: Put Down That Book!

Post by mrswritebrain » January 14th, 2010, 7:41 pm

Love this, Susan.

The mother of 5 not-so-diminutive sons.


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Re: Put Down That Book!

Post by aspiring_x » February 16th, 2010, 1:45 pm

This was great!
But what about when the boy has been at wrestling practice for a couple hours, followed by a thirty minute shower to prevent MRSA, had a snack and a drink, is already up an hour past his bedtime and has school in the morning? (and he's seven)
Sometimes I do have to tell my son to put down the book. He still tries to weasel the light back on, and pull his book back out. Then he is literally falling asleep on his desk at school the next day. I think the teacher has about had it with us.
But reading is one of the most important things for young minds... too bad the young bodies need sleep too.

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Re: Put Down That Book!

Post by Simpatico » February 17th, 2010, 3:10 pm

I can see a future where ebooks fill the internet on sites set up like Myspace.

E-publishing will become easy - like blogs now - and everyone will feel they can do it. Then a facebook/myspace-type site will arise for the medium, where you join and fill out your preferred genre - romance, fantasy, thrillers etc - and recommendations will spring out at you. It'll show the latest submissions, the e-books your friends have flagged, the highest-starred ones, the most popular ones, the ones written by friends and family, the ones being talked about in the forums etc.

You'll be able to go view each e-book/author page and check out the blurbs, excerpts, reviews etc.

And then, sadly, once people find one they'd like to check out, they'll go download the pirated version.

Vive la revolucion!

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Re: Put Down That Book!

Post by christi » February 17th, 2010, 5:45 pm

Well, I'm a writer AND a reader, as I'm sure most of us are. For every book I write, I've read scores more. Maybe we'll all just sit at our computers and write novels for each other. :-)
Would you sign my story for a Klondike bar?


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