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Monday, October 24, 2005

Publishing moves on

On Saturday, I wrote about publishers suing Google over the proposed Google Print service. Like the music and movie industries, book publishers also consider the new technology as a threat instead of an opportunity. Call it hidebound management or corporate culture, call it a failure of imagination by the very companies that survive on selling imagination. Either way, analog media companies are faced with wrenching change — and they can’t do anything but react, badly.

Once upon a time, the dream was to write the Great American Novel. The Hemingways and Steinbecks of a previous generation were the rock stars of their time. Video may have killed the radio star, but the novelist was wounded in a collateral damage incident and now the video star is sick in bed as well. Like any large industry in decline, book publishers (and to a lesser extent, music & video) turned first to wringing more out of the formula that worked so well in the past. When that didn’t work, instead of looking for new ways to do what they do best, they cast blame hither and yon, and fell even farther back onto formula.

it’s a truism that “nobody wants to read anymore,” and I’ve often said it myself — but blogs give the lie to that factoid. It’s not that people don’t want to read, they just don’t want to read the goop on bookstore shelves. There are exceptions, to be sure; I mentioned Neil Gaiman in an earlier posting, but without much promotion (that I’ve noticed, anyway) beyond a new Stephen King release or one of the Left Behind series from a while back, how do you find good new stuff?

Well, your host has never shied away from stating an opinion. Since Hallowe’en is just around the corner, I’ll offer up a couple of horror novels on other blogs.

First, my friend and bob-brother Carnacki’s novel, The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire. Its style is a series of diary entries, which naturally works well when published on a blog. It takes a different angle on the traditional vampire story by casting vampires — or rather, a particular vampire — as the hero. I don’t want to spoil it for you, just go read.

If your tastes run toward werewolves, What is happening to me? delivers. It’s structured as an actual blog, so you have to start with the first post (to which I pointed you) and work your way up from the bottom. Someone described it as an “epistolary novel," a story using a series of letters (or diary entries) as building blocks. There’s an immediacy, a “life as it’s happening” quality to it that the traditional novel would be hard-pressed to offer.

One thing both stories have in common: their plots twist in ways I didn’t expect. That can be dangerous, but in both cases I found it delightful. Surprises are good, as long as they don’t go off in some random direction — the plot twist has to connect the new direction to earlier elements of the story is all.

Again, go forth and read. And shiver.

1 comment:

  1. Did you finish reading mine? Be interested in what you thought. Please shoot me an email if you wouldn't mind.


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