Over the weekend, fellow western writer and friend, Larry Sweazy and I were asked to speak before a gathering of patrons at a beautiful new library. Attendees wanted to hear about how, when, and where we write. Easy questions, easy answers. Normally. That is until we were quizzed as to what we thought about the future of ebooks, self-publishing and the like. Two very different topics. It was no more than two years ago that people were poo-pooing any reading material that didn't require the use of paper. In a very short time, that has changed dramatically. And while I dislike having to take a stand on controversial topics, I do have a strong opinion here.
I often hear folks lumping ebooks into a category comprised of many self-pubbed authors. That self-pubbed label usually carries with it the presumption that there has been no professional editing, and uses amateur cover art. There can sometimes be some truth to those condemnations, however, they should not encompass the entire ebook community, nor should they take on the mantle of always being the case. There have been badly edited print books around for years, yet no one condemned the entire print industry. Far from it. The printed word has always held a place of high regard among the reading public. Therein lies the problem, and my rather subjective opinion.
Here it comes! Ebooks will not sound the death nell of printed books. Paper will always be with us. It is only the way we perceive books that is changing. And that is a good thing. Ebooks, in my opinion, may very well become the savior of books, authors, and publishers, and an industry that has fallen on hard times of late. In fact, most of the major publishers recognize the potential and are bringing out new titles in print and ebook. I say hooray! I hear authors saying why embrace such technology when it practically erases the opportunity to sign books, to shake hands, and meet new friends? Hogwash. That's a false argument. New technology brings new ways of doing old things. New technology will bring new adherents (readers) to the fold. I do embrace and welcome the chance to try new things and jump into the stream of history going with the flow rather than trying to swim upstream. Bring on a wider readership and more power to those who embrace a broader view of getting into a good read. Authors write, readers read. It's the perfect partnership in whatever form it takes. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
As an aside, my newest Western, "Cotton's War" coming out in June, is being offered in both print and ebook. So, envision me on my raft, drifting lazily down the Old Mill Stream, going with the flow.