Yes, Virginia, There Is an Apocalypse

Well, maybe not quite an apocalypse, but at the very least an industry-shaking revolution.

I’m talking about the big shakeup that e-books are causing in the publishing business. I’ve been hearing about this for a couple of years. Notably, Mike Mennenga and Michael Stackpole have been going on about this on their podcast for quite some time. Other voices have chimed in from elsewhere in the blogo/podo-spheres as well. This is hardly news.

Well, except it is. At least to me.

Until recently, I have been sticking with the attitude of “you’ll get my paperback when you pry it from my cold dead fingers!” I hate reading on screens for any length of time, and I like the feel of a book in my hand. Why would anyone switch to an e-reader?

Furthermore, the various voices I heard screaming about the advent of the e-book were also screaming about the impending doom of the existing publishing industry. “They’re dinosaurs,” they would say, “and very soon, they’ll be extinct dinosaurs.” I don’t give much credit to doomsayers because 90% of the time, they’re wrong, and even when they’re right, they’ve overstated the scale of the doom 90% of the time.

Plus, I found that these various doomsayers did a spectacularly bad job of explaining why or how the doom was going to arrive. They deflected any criticism mostly by saying that anyone who did not see the obvious was just too stupid to survive the upcoming changes. This smacked of the weak cry of an indefensible dogma, so if anything, it solidified my belief in the opposite.

But now I’m starting to change my mind. What did it? Frankly, it was finally reading someone talking about it who did not sound like a Kool-aid guzzling doom-monkey.

So, here are five articles by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, a well-known writer, publisher, and editor with about thirty years experience in this industry.

The first is an alarming piece (sans doom-monkeyshine) called Writing Like It’s 1999.

The rest are a four-part series telling established writers how to Survive the Transition.
Part 1: Some analysis and why you should not panic
Part 2: Watch out for the biggest rights-grab in history
Part 3: Why maybe you can’t trust your agent anymore
Part 4: Planning for the future

These are long, but I think they’re worth the read. It’s the most insightful writing on the publishing industry and e-books I’ve seen since the Kindle hit the market.