Who’d have ever thought that when the internet swept the world, the digital revolution would follow on its heels. Overnight, digital technology grew by leaps and bounds and everything changed. Suddenly, the face of movies and music changed with the ability to transmit over the internet. Great bastions of entertainment started finding that they were now dinosaurs in the digital world of bytes and bits. You could rent movies from a website and watch them on your computer screen immediately, no longer having to worry about returning a DVD to the right store before the time ended. The movie simply played and the disappeared from your hard drive. Music could be purchased as full “albums” or single songs.
Then, the world of publishing fell into the sites, thanks to Amazon and other stores. The birth of the Kindle spawned a host of other devices – the Nook and the iPad, to name but a few – and the ebook revolution exploded with such a force that the traditional publishing world still hasn’t recovered from the backlash. Suddenly, you didn’t have to go out to the book store and you didn’t have to wait for delivery. The book store came to you and the digital copy transmitted to your device or your computer.
The face of publishing changed. And it’s still changing. Where, before, a “self-published author” was once looked upon as a hack, a wannabe, a couldn’t-hack-it in the “real world”, there is now an “indie author” who has complete control over his or her product – from the writing and editing, to the cover art and marketing – and is far more accessible to the fan and reading public. So many traditionally published authors have gone indie thanks to the storefronts of Amazon, Kindle, Sony, etc who promote indie books.
The hardest changes have been in that format – from physical book to digital ebook. If you thought the contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney got heated, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The two camps of traditional book readers and ebook readers is still debated in often insulting terms, neither side yielding to the possibility that both can co-exist in this modern world. Traditional book readers fight tooth and nail for those hard covers and paperbacks, claiming a terrible sterility in the ebook and craving the smell, touch, and feel of the physical copy. They can’t understand the draw of ebooks, can’t understand what “moron” would read one. They poo-poo indie authors still, fight hard for the old ways of publishing.
But the ebook revolution will not die easily, if at all. Where independent films and music has found their niches and flourish, even winning Oscars and Grammys, so will ebooks. Even the indie published books. When it becomes so easy to carry one’s entire library in a device that fits neatly in the purse or briefcase, to purchase those books anywhere and not have to make the trip out of the comforts of home or wait for days to read them, that genie can’t be put back in the bottle. And now that textbooks have begun to follow suit, soon students will be coming to class with mighty ebook reader in hand instead of the backpacks loaded to the brim of books for classes. No more hunched backs for these students.
As Timbuk 3 once noted, “The future’s so bright, I have to wear shades.” The ebook revolution can only get brighter. We should probably make sure the shades we’re wearing are prescription.
Jesse V Coffey is the author of Salt of the Earth, The Brothers Cameron: An Opportunity for Resentment, and A Wager of Blood, all released as ebooks for all ebook devices. Her next release is set for December 2012, the historical fantasy The Savior. She can be reached at email@example.com.