Monday, June 6, 2011

The prison of E

Yesterday, while on a date no less, a friend of mine noticed something that was both pretty cool and related to me. He even went so far as to send the picture mail to my phone. The image was of my book sitting on a shelf in a bookstore. I smiled, and replied, thanking him for carrying my book around and having the creativity audacity to sit his copy on the shelf and take a picture of it. He called me not five minutes later, still on the date, to clarify that the image was not of his book. The picture was of a stack of yet to be purchased volumes, legitimately for sale. I stick my foot in my mouth a lot; I've even used my own foot to wipe egg from my face. That conversation will stand out as one of the more positive occasions.

But perhaps I should also digress and explain. Firstly, I don't self-condemn that much anymore. The reason I jumped to my initial conclusion is because I had seen a picture of another author doing the same thing. I was almost inspired enough to do it myself, and my thought when I got the text was "oh, I must have told him about it at some point, and he went and did it." Small press authors like me and most authors I know don't benefit from corporate machines that put our books in check out lines and on television commercials and in newspapers. You won't meet a lot of people that have heard of the place that published me, or the sorts of places that would likely give me a second look at this point in my career.

And because of the small staffs and small budgets, the tendency to lean on technology is great. Ebooks is what I'm talking about. And for all the sales we might enjoy, all the congratulations we read on computer screens, seeing ones book on a shelf in a store is something I haven't heard much of. A month ago, to get my book without personal internet access, a body had to go to the store and order it through the clerks there, then wait until whatever process happened and the item was delivered and waiting to be picked up. Today, at least in one store I know of, that same body can walk in, perhaps on a lunch break, see the book on the shelf, and pay for it right then. The times are changing, to be sure, but there are still a lot of readers that don't browse the internet the way they browse book shelves. Certainly, of the people I know that have bought my book, only two picked up the digital version (and that was only because they couldn't figure out how to get the paperback).

And perhaps that's the reason for my own lack of initiative in regards to jumping into the future. Networking for the past few months has paid off, but more than one person has told me I need to be on Twitter. And more than once I've put in the url and stared at the log in page, hovering over the sign up link. I'm not sure if my defiance has waned or if my acceptance that it has to be done has grown to eclipse it. I had just gotten used to doing this blog, too, writing my thoughts down as if I was talking to more than ten people. But I guess that's part of the point; technology leaps forward, and keeping up isn't by nature a comfortable affair.

But at least I'll always have my stories. The chapters this past weekend went swimmingly, as did the editing this morning. I even did some outlining, too, and the ends are in sight. The ritual is all very nice and familiar. I also worked a bit on a submission for a local book fair. A co worker came in and asked me about whether or not I had talked to the people at the library on campus. I said no, of course, but we did make arrangements to make that awkward conversation happen on Wednesday. Maybe the trick is a little bit of old and a little bit of new. I was never one that went in from the deep end.

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