"There is a tide, which, if taken at the flood..."
Yeah well. At the moment I must admit to feeling like I am walking along a huge sandspit of very soft sand, textured and shaped by the waves and currents of the past - the landscape of publishing and book-buying. There are some magnicent sandcastles on it, built on the hillocks, commanding all that they survey.
But lately I've noticed the ripples of sea-water edging into the lowest points. Not a surging wave... just a foam-edged trickle... electronic publishing. A new tide and its waves are coming to affect that landscape. If it is the full tide I think it's going to be the builders of the castles had better start piling sand or prepare to move to new shoreline.
It's taking various forms: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2009/10/kindle-numbers-traditional-publishing.html (and an answer to that http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/2009/10/you-can-become-a-kindle-millionaire-part-joe.html )
or as a different approach http://www.cherryh.com/WaveWithoutAShore/?p=406
and I am sure some of the tide will falter, and at least that parts of it will change nothing. The keeper of the castles are building little ramparts as fast as they're able. And they are the only ones on the beach with spades (and in some cases, steam-shovels). If they build fast and clever they could still survive the tide. We'll need gatekeepers and promotion. Websites like Amazon have huge traffic to sweep the sand up around them. Publishers have accumulated sand (or capital and contacts). Big bookstores have dug quite large moats.
But I don't think anyone knows where it is going. All we know is the landscape is going to change.
So how best do we-- the writers -- navigate that? How do we avoid being swept away completely?
How are we to adapt?
What should we be doing?
What do we need to avoid?