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Rocking the Publishing Cradle
or Rocking The Literary Boat?

By Carol Givner

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Carol Givner is the author of five novels, four of which are ebooks. BING, BANG, BOOM, a romantic comedy, was released May 17 by Book-On-Disc.Com. They will also publish STEAM HEAT, a mystery, in January, 2000, and JUNGLE, a comedy, later next year. KISS AND DON'T TELL, a mystery written as Victoria Thomsen, will be published by The Fiction Works. IN THE BUFF will be released in paperback by LionHearted Publishing. In addition, Carol is the Editor of WORDSMITH and the President of Gold Coast Fiction Writers. She is the newly appointed Director of Marketing for "The Society's Letters" of SEPRA and writes a syndicated market column.

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?"
~~W.B. Yeats~~

From Anchorage to Zimbabwe, writers, editors, and publishers will have a new creature to lionize when the first January midnight of a new era rolls the millennium across our celebrating planet. Electronic publishing will take its place in literary history as the greatest invention since wood-covered graphite.

And we'll never be lonely again.

What drew creative people toward Internet Publishing?

We were seduced.

We were compelled by the freedom of innovation, the charm of immediacy, and the security of an all-encompassing medium with its reviews, reader feedback, and royalties.

Writers and artists are no longer confined to the front porch waiting for the mail carrier, the antediluvian life line to publishers. Brushing aside worries of piracy, we have a new silver chord to a constant platform where our stories and opinions will have their permanent hour in the sun.

Electronic publishing's instant appeal caught on quickly with perks which had only been found, until then, in the impossible daydreams of writers -- the availability of the work for years instead of weeks, the chance to break out of genre categories set in implacable bedrock by many print publishers, the rare necessity for an agent, the opportunity to support the planet's efforts to save paper and forests. And the fun. Where else can a writer find an audience at 2 am?

For those who relish bound volumes, be assured that electronic publishing is a new forum, not a replacement. We write for films, tv, print, stage, radio, and now the net. Over the last five years, avant-garde authors and editors have identified the new marketplace and taken their work directly to the people. E-publishing was born out of a need for recognition and a love of writing. With costs at a minimum, we create in the ultimate playground and publish, as if we had a printing press in the basement. The high-quality product is professional and lasts forever.

American writer and editor, David Gettman, Founder and Managing Editor of Online Originals, and Christopher Macann, an English Professor of Philosophy at Bordeaux University, "found that print publishers, which were rapidly being bought up by large media conglomerates, were becoming far less concerned with literature and ideas and far more concerned about marketing and profits. The resulting mass-market mentality was allowing nothing new, unusual, innovative or alternative through the editorial gateway, and instead produced only banal fiction, 'media celebrity' authors, and regurgitated ideas. We saw the Internet as a possible alternative medium for publishing literature and ideas -- one which, because of the extremely low-cost of digital production and distribution -- needn't concern itself with mass-market appeal, and could concentrate instead on providing quality content."

What is the future of Internet publishing?

"Married to print-on-demand technology, it will eventually change the entire face of publishing as we know it," says author Kate Saundby.

Gettman predicts, "I think that the mass-market production and 'lifestyle/coffee-shop' (as well as Internet discount) retailing of printed books will accelerate and become increasingly popular (and increasingly competitive) over the next several years, but that rather more intelligent readers will despair over the uniform, unoriginal content that is being promoted to them. This latter community of readers will gradually turn to online publishers for more rewarding and interesting reading material."

And after the fact? Multi-published author Diana Gabaldon writes, "Now, once published, I've certainly used the Internet and its assorted venues to publicize my books and keep in touch with readers--and very helpful and unique it is."

Publisher Bill Brennan of Book-On-Disc.Com believes that "electronic publishing will change the way authors communicate with readers." They "can leave the constraints of the old publishing world behind" and "reach around the globe as easily as making a phone call and leaving a message."

As the Internet joins established media, the incessantly successful and persistent new dilettante on the block has been graciously accepted by forward-thinking pacesetters in the industry. Notably, Fran Halpern, hostess of National Public Radio's literary talk show, "Connections," made publishing history with her May 16 broadcast by devoting it entirely to electronic books.

As the century draws to a close, we have witnessed the infant steps of the cultured beast of the millennium, a child born out of the rocking cradle of adventure and creativity. Even though we were criticized for opening ourselves up to blatant and unprecedented copyright infringement, the awakening neophyte of publishing anarchy had a global bark far worse than its megabyte.

Were we going to be a passing flash in the control-alt-delete pan?


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Copyright 1999 Carol Givner.

Copyright 2000 Debbie Ridpath Ohi.
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