Sunday, 5 June 2011

Digital Publishing and this years Surrey International Writers Conference

            This month Amazon released some numbers and a few of them might be a little startling. Ebook sales surpassed print book sales grabbed my attention. This is combined with the ongoing closure and failure of traditional print bookstores. So I poured myself another drink and thought about what this might mean to Authors and the industry as a whole. I am hardly IN the industry long enough to have a real valid opinion but I do have an interesting parallel.
            Back in the day I used to be a pro photographer. Many years ago, the digital age hit the pro photography market. I was a bit of a techno geek, more so than I am today and was ahead of the curve on that evolution. Back in those days you created an image for a client and then brought it down to the store and got your work back in 24 hours. Then you made an appointment with the client to go over the work. Took the order and then went back to the store to get the final product created. Finished product in hand you went to your retouch specialist to fix the print and in a week or so picked that up and delivered it to the happy client.  I looked at this digital specter then and thought Wow! I shoot it in studio, edit and Photoshop the image and email it to the client. Then the client makes an order and I digitally send it to the lab, and they send it to the happy client! I embraced it. Film costs drop to zero, time cut in third, and no driving around! The margin in the photo world was pretty tight so this all made sense.
            I remember being at the Professional Photographers of Canada big convention. Here were my hero’s of the image world. Outstanding artists, many having achieved Master Photographer, and other awards for their images. None of them to my surprise were really behind this new technology. This was in the infancy of digital photography. My Pro D1 Nikon camera had an amazing 3.5mp resolution, and cost twelve thousand dollars and the compact flash micro drive was a thousand bucks.  Expensive to be certain but the loss of film and paper more than made up for it in three years. So why were these leaders in the field not giving it a second look? I was young and inquiring and so I asked the questions. I remember getting a multitude of answers some made sense while others did not. What I found most distributing about some of these answers was when they drifted into the realm of reciprocity failure. “Reciprocity Failure” is a real term to describe a condition where film is pushed to far and starts to fail across the colour spectrum. But it also was used by pros to describe something else. Bullshit.  Many of these answers made no sense at all. The naysayers were scared. The great Ansel Adams could afford to shoot three hundred feet of film over the Yosemite Valley and find one awesome sunset image and now so could I. It boiled down to fear of change and fear of their market. The big image houses were being bought up by the larger and the smaller ones had already been absorbed or failed. It was a very tumultuous time in the photography world.
            So now we have Ebooks. An aspiring writer can create and edit and produce a book directly and bypass the traditional game. I remember telling a few people that Grey Redemption was being published. Some responded. “Oh you wrote and Ebook?” New to the scene I had to answer no but as it turns out Grey Redemption got three ISBN. One of them for an Ebook. In fact Steve, a friend from work, bought it on his Iphone on the day it was launched. Steve had been one of my test readers and no doubt wanted to see if I took out all the “Inky Black” descriptive, and see if I brought back his favorite character.
            I am not as much of a pro in writing as I was in photography. Actually let me set the record straight. I CAN’T WRITE! My use of grammar is sub par for the industry and my spelling is well awful. But I do tell a good story. I have always been good at telling a good yarn. Some of them are even true. But with some good editing and a great deal of awfully painful revisions Grey Redemption was born. It followed more of a traditional publish than the current Ebook scene but what about the Prequel or Sequel? Hopefully I will find some answers at this years Surrey Writers Conference. I know to whom I am going to direct my questions. From previous Surrey Conferences I know many of these people to be fearless and honest so I am very much looking forward to it. Just a quick note about SIWC. It is by far the best. I have been to the London Book Fair and the Book Expo America and they both pale in comparison. Slade, McCammon, Dugoni, Gabaldon, Whyte all off script and in person is truly a humbling and educational time. See you all in 2011! 

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