We have all heard how publishing is changing, and how fast the shifts are taking place. We have also heard how this is affecting publishing - how the big publishing houses are trying to catch up with the technology, trying to understand it as well as the smaller publishers do. We've heard of the decline of the bricks and mortar bookshop... and how people are buying everything - including paperbacks - online.
What does all this mean to the humble reader? All I want is good books, the humble reader cries. Yes - a reader reads, but that simple reading means a lot of things to a great number of people. Reading provides jobs and makes money for a very long chain of interested parties. Humble readers and their purchases, habits, likes and dislikes support a whole industry.
Image via WikipediaThe industry is currently experiencing a momentous upheaval. It will in turn affect the humble reader, in what that reader can obtain to read, the form in which it can be read, and its cost. How - as a reader - can one ensure that there will always be good, affordable reading material to read? How can you and I be special readers?
A special reader knows there are key roles in the publishing game that need to survive in order for books to stay available as a source for education, information, and entertainment. Special readers know that the whole industry is there because of them. All of it. No readers, no book industry. No publishing.
The most important roles in the industry are the indispensible ones. One needs authors, and one needs publishers. One needs producers of physical and digital books. One needs a place to buy the books. Sometimes, these roles overlap - some authors write, publish, produce and sell their own books. Some use producers and retailers. Some use publishers and sell some of their titles themselves. It's a melange that has many possibilities.
Image via WikipediaA reader is a reader - and yes, many writers also read. How can a humble reader become a special one? Here are the things you can do to make sure you support the industry in the best ways you can. The book industry needs sustaining. It runs on what readers do. If you are a reader, you need to DO things to make sure it lives on to bring you more books.
ONE: Buy books. It seems obvious, but borrowing, stealing and finding books does not support either the industry or the authors you like so much. Stealing books is especially nefarious: books are getting cheaper (If you haven't noticed it yet, you will soon.) Buying inexpensive eBooks is great. Downloading them from pirates is not - it will eventually destroy your authors, so pay the three bucks!
TWO: Discover as much as you can about your favourite authors. Not only the titles of their books, but where they work, what else they write, how they come by their ideas, whether they are on FaceBook or GoodReads or your favourite hang-out. Do they write in another genre? Have they published short stories? Do they give out any free reading examples? Free reading examples supplied by authors and publishers are different from stealing an illegal copy of a book.
THREE: Let your favourite authors know you love them. Most are approachable, nice, contactable... they love their fans back. Write a review, send a message, like them on FaceBook, reTweet their Tweets. Follow them, wherever they hang out.
FOUR: Special readers spread the word. Authors know that word of mouth is the greatest seller of books. So talk about your favourite authors at parties, at the supermarket checkout, on the phone, in your posts and comments. Mention their names, tweet their links. Message the titles of their books. In this way, more people will know about your authors, more people will buy their books, and they will be more likely to still be around when you next want something good to read.
If you are an author, tell me what you'd like your readers to do. If you are a reader, what have you done lately to show your favourite authors you like what they do?