Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rethinking Conventional Wisdom

Front cover
One of the books I currently have checked out on my sister's card is Alone With All That Could Happen: Rethinking Conventional Wisdom About the Craft of Fiction Writing by David Jauss. Published by Writer's Digest.  I am finding Jauss' advice helpful, his perspective upending and reading it enjoyable because even in non-fiction essay's he uses language like a poet.  But this is not a review..  At least not of the content.

You might call it a product review but that doesn't cover the whole of what is on my mind, which is that I was also thoroughly enjoying holding the book in my hands as I read.  Not only was eye-strain minimal even for me with my vision issues but the texture of the pages was pleasing to the touch and the decorative extras were pleasing to the eye and the elegance of the cloth cover exuded luxury.

splash page
I realized I was lusting after owning this book as much for its physical essence as for its content.  Maybe more.  For I could get the content in a variety of formats and still appreciate it--paperback, ebook, audio book--but none of them would give me the same visceral gratification as of a gourmand for an exotic delicacy.

As I mused on this it occurred to me that this reaction was proof that the panic attack the traditional publishing industry is having over digital publishing is a waste of energy and all the words, ink and sweat spilled over the issue useless.  All they need to do is think outside the box.  Not by all that much either.  Just a moderate rethinking of their business model.would remove the specter of irrelevance

table of contents & epigraph
If they could shift from seeing themselves as primarily content purveyors who must have a monopoly over the content and its potential market and must mass produce the cheapest possible vehicle for said content in order to make a profit and realize that they could be creators of works of art themselves they could stop hyperventilating over the impending demise of their industry.

chapter heading

For as long as there are those for whom the handling of an exquisitely made book gives pleasure there will continue to be a demand for them.  And as long as there are parents and grandparents who share their love of handling physical books with the youngsters in their lives there will be new crops of customers.

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