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Attending a seminar about the future of books, eBooks , and publishing is a great way to spend a Monday. The drawcard for me when I received the invitation for this one from WritingWA was the main speaker: Mark Coker.
We all know who he is: the enterprising owner of SmashWords, the innovative eBook site where self-publishing authors and commercial publishers rub shoulders. I was ready to soak up every word: the fact he was in Western Australia to speak to authors and readers alike was an exciting opportunity.
What a very pleasant and informative day! The seminar - under the auspices of WritingWA - included an entertaining but very useful presentation by Kate Eltham, CEO at Queensland Writers Centre. Spanning from a nicely nostalgic tour of the early days of books and writing, to the possibilities and avenues of the future of the book, it was fascinating stuff for all in the packed auditorium.
Mark Coker regaled the fascinated audience with his generous advice and canny industry knowledge. He showed how truly global publishing is today, how authors can address anyone - from family and friends, to communities, to the whole world - and how they can form direct relationships with their readers. This is possible now, and is an enormous development from the traditional supply chain the publishing industry has been for decades.
There was a lot to take home, as the saying goes. Advice, informed opinion, and a ground-level view of what authors and readers are learning to expect will happen in the next decade. While both Kate and Mark expressed affection and regard for the paper book as we know and love it, they were both realistic about the future. I had to agree that there could be no doubt of the importance of the eBook, whether or not it out-does the paper book. Both said that we stand at the very commencement of enormous changes that are bound to overtake publishing. Both said they had no idea where we will be 15 or even 10 years hence.
Exciting stuff, which can be a bit daunting to the uninitiated, the wary and the technically-challenged. Acronyms peppered the talk, the future kept raising its head, the inevitability of e-everything was a palpable reality, and the consciousness of the ever-increasing numbers of authors filled the day.
I returned energized, filled with optimism, and excited about the potential, prospects and possibilities that lie ahead for me and my books. The dynamic sense I got of being on the threshold of momentous changes has still not gone away. I want to do something about what I felt today. Here it is:
I have shorn off the price-tags on my three SmashWords published eBooks. From today, my readers can enjoy Vision or Delusion, Two Short Stories: Rosaria's Dowry & Counting Churches, and Two Short Stories: Woman Peeling an Apple & Rainstorms at no cost. That's right - download them free, gratis and for nothing, and enjoy them. This is my way of celebrating the future of publishing as I see it. Use them to try my writing out, if you still have not read anything from my pen.
Enjoy my stories, and come back for more soon.