When I dreamed up this topic, I was so sure I'd have all my answers and ideas right on the tips of my fingers. Not so. There really are so many angles to think about.
To hold a book in your hands, to feel the give of the pages and smell that special smell they have is something I've enjoyed all my life. To hold my own book is enormous. I can't deny that. It's part of why I'm an author. I can't see myself ever becoming a big NY best seller, and to be really honest, I don't want to be. I think the waste of the old way of publishing is horrendous. Runs of thousands of books, many simply destroyed for lack of warehouse space is ludicrous and, I feel, is a slap in the face of anyone who is eco-friendly. That saying, save a tree, read an ebook, comes to mind.
But, having said that, small run presses or print on demand spark a brilliant flash of interest. True, right now it costs more to supply books that way, but that's now. Give it a little time and I'm sure the cost will be more friendly, the concept more acceptable and bookstores will become more used to the idea of ordering ten, fifty, two hundred or whatever of a new release. Yes, there are authors who can sell those enormous numbers and possibly there will be a place for the big printers for awhile, but I truly think the future lies in POD and/or e-books.
E-books, electronic devices for reading them and the environment. Are e-books really all the environmentally friendly? I mean think about it. The author needs a computer to write the book. And software, can't forget those fancy programs we all gush over. A computer is designed to fall apart after a few years, the software is no good on the newer model. Our landfills are growing with the plastics and whatever computers are made of. Manufactured obsolescence is the way of our world and somehow that's got to stop.
Add the cost of e-book readers to this mix and we can see why so many people shy away from this 'new' technology that Ash said has been around since the 70's. I know in my small city there are few people who truly understand e-publishing, and I'm including the bookstore where I've finally managed to get my books on the shelves. Print on demand is still thought of as self publishing. E-books are a mystery. Pirates and readers, and even some authors have no idea what the rules are about giving e-books to friends/families and are shocked to find out it's illegal. As an author, I die of frustration a little bit every time I think about how little the average person knows about what I love so much.
So, print or electronic? Personally, I write for the readers anywhere and everywhere. If I could snap my fingers and educate them all, I would. I believe that's what we all have to do in this every changing world. Educate the masses and show em our books. Sure, there are some authors I may feel aren't up to snuff when it comes to the craft, but readers will discover that in their own good time.
E-book then into print. Yes, to me that's the dream. Cover all the bases. Snag all the readers wherever they are. Yup, I'm greedy. But, I do believe electronic is the future. I also believe there will always be print books out there. Just not as many and possibly priced beyond the average Joe.
I guess we'll all see, won't we? What do you think the future will bring?