Friday, February 12, 2010

Repeat After Me: Change is Good

DSCF1020 First, a snow update from the D.C. suburbs: Shoveled snow for seven consecutive days. Measured 27 inches over the weekend, another 6 or 8 or 10 inches on Tues/Wed (I lost track). Damage report: one broken snow shovel, trunks of two small trees snapped, power out for two hours overnight (we were lucky), minor muscle aches and pains. The kids have been off school since last Friday, and, miraculously, no one has been strangled. All in all, we weathered the storm just fine. Of course, I made awful use of my snowbound time, once again failing to do my taxes, clean the basement, and learn how to juggle. On the plus side, I did dabble in a new genre, snow fiction.

The picture above is my son’s car, completely encased in snow. Ha! Good luck digging out, dude! (Just kidding. I helped dig him out.)

(Whining Disclaimer: Yes, I know that for many of you living in the wilds of Colorado or Minnesota or Canada, three feet of snow is no big deal. But the Nation's Capital is not used to it, nor are its residents prepared for it. We're equipped to handle inaugurations and partisan muckraking and political scandals. And panda bears. Not snow.)

Now, today's blog entry:

I'm still a relative newbie in the world of publishing, but even I can sense a tidal wave of change in the offing.

Just a sampling:

Consolidation. Book retailers have been consolidating (and shutting down). Hardly a week goes by without another independent store closing its doors. Of course, financial troubles aren't limited to the independents (Hello Borders).

Industry layoffs. The big New York houses started downsizing in earnest when the economy went south. How they will recover remains to be seen.

Tales of the shrinking midlist. If you believe the (thousands of) publishing blogs, it's still a dandy time to be a best-seller, but pickings are slim for everyone else.

Going digital. If you've cruised the blogosphere lately, you know what's been garnering the most attention--the potential onslaught of ebooks. How will their increasing market share affect every aspect of the business, from authors to publishers to distributors to readers? Which devices will survive? The Kindle? The Nook? The iPad? Something we haven't even seen yet? What pricing model will win out? What about piracy? How will lower barriers to entry (for ebook authors/publishers) change the landscape? Who will become top dog in the ebook world? Amazon? Barnes & Noble? Apple? And where is Google in all this?

Lots of questions. Lots of predictions. (Predictions are like, uh, noses. Everybody's got one.) Few real answers. The only constant is change.

So what can we do about it all?

Much of the change is beyond our control, so we might as well relax. We need to stay current. Adapt the best we can to shifting conditions. Position ourselves to take advantage of whatever may come. Trite advice? Sure. Nebulous? Absolutely.

But we can control one thing--the most important thing. We're writers. We provide the content. We need to write damn good books. I believe if we can do that, we'll be in a good position to figure out the rest. No need to panic.

We'll be okay.

Now, get writing.


Are you an embracer of change, or does all this talk of gloom and doom send you into the bedroom, where you can pull the blankets up over your head and wait out the storm, hoping it will just blow over? You can tell the truth, we're all friends here.


(Part of this post was “simul-cast” on InkSpot.)



Mason Canyon said...

I'm not good with change. I'm not sure I like e-books. I want to be able to hold my book and dog-ear a page when I have to put it down.

Hope the snow lets up soon. (But, I'm still glad you have it and not me) :D

Elspeth Futcher said...

Snow is beautiful up on the mountains, not so beautiful if you have to shovel the stuff. I think change should only be allowed if I've okayed it. Nobody's asked me yet. I find this insufferably rude. Didn't they get the memo?

Galen Kindley--Author said...

I'm pretty good with long as I can sorta see it coming. You gave a great paragraph of advice for dealing with it, and many other life-events. Have a great weekend, Alan.

Oh, yes...I will chop your vegetables. You'll be glad to know we have a kitchen knife here we've nicknamed, The Amputator...don't ever drop it.

Best Wishes Galen.
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Adele said...

I love my ereader but I still prefer to buy books.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I really like technological change and keep on trying to learn new stuff. At first, Kindle and other e-readers weren't appealing, but the idea is growing on me. I'd never give up real books because they're easier on my eyes, but if I had an e-reader for traveling, that would be great.

Alan Orloff said...

Mason - I haven't made the change to ebooks either. Not sure when I will, but I'm guessing that it'll happen at some point, at least partially.

Elspeth - Well, I certainly got the memo. As you know, I run all proposed changes by you.

Galen - The Amputator. Great!

Hagelrat - So many to choose from. What kind you have?

Patricia - I think I'm kinda where you are. Ereaders do have some appeal, but...I love paper books.

Lorel Clayton said...

I think we don't have a choice: times change whether we want them to or not, and writers write whether or not they make any money at it.