On the non-publishing side of my life, I went to the theatre this week. One of the great things about living in the Dallas area is we have wonderful live theatre venues. One of the newest is the AT&T Performing Arts Center in downtown. Across from the Dallas Museum of Art, it is the latest entry into the new arts district. Architecturally, it is a beautiful theatre, even if the lobby area is a bit too modern for my taste. Inside, comfortable seats, lots of leg room and a wonderful sound system.
So far, so good, right. The world isn't ending. And then the show began and I knew that, at the least, I'd fallen through the cracks into some parallel universe. Why, you ask. Well, if you've never seen Avenue Q, do. It's a wonderful snapshot of life, the good and the bad. But, it will also change the way you view muppets forever. Seriously. No joke here. The characters, including Kate Monster (no, Kate, she didn't have an Aussie accent of any sort, sorry), Trekkie Monster, Princeton, Rod and Nicky and others sing about things like "My life sucks". "the internet is for porn" and others. And then there's the sex -- muppet sex. Muppet sex!!!! Maybe it is the end of the world as we know it. (Yes, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek, but there is muppet sex in the musical)
So, with that already running through my head, I booted up my computer and find a New York Times op-ed piece by Garrison Keillor proclaiming, "The End of an Era in Publishing". Maybe the muppet sex did it and it has caused the end of the world as we know it. But no, Keillor is simply pronouncing that "that book publishing is about to slide into the sea." Yes, more doom and gloom because writers no longer have to sit in their ill-lit garrets, pounding away at their typewriters and waiting and angsting to hear some publisher wants to offer them lots of money to publish their book.
Now, while some of my posts may seem depressing when it comes to the state of publishing, I don't mean them to. I think, like many others, that the industry is changing and we have to change with it. And by "we" I mean not only writers, but editors, copy editors and publishers alike. We have to respond to the demands and needs of the buying public. And I'm not alone in this. Keillor's op-ed piece generated some very interesting responses.
One of my favorites is from Richard Nash who said, "Culture doesn’t need publishing. Culture needs writers and readers connecting with one another. Publishing’s alleged demise is a problem only to the extent that publishing was doing a good job connecting writers and readers. But recent and current publishing was mostly in the bookstore supply business, only tangentially the writer-reader connection business. If the demise of the bookstore supply business pushes more talented editors, curators, and taste-matchers into the reader-writer connection business, our culture will be vastly improved by the demise of publishing as we had known it."
Now, I don't think we will see the demise of the bookstore nor of hard copy publishing. Much as I love my Kindle, I still love the feel of a "real" book in my hands. Also, there are times and places where I don't want my Kindle -- usually involving things like water. I'm a klutz and don't want to risk dunking the kindle in the bath, at the pool, wherever.
So, what are your thoughts. Is it the end of the world as we know it? Is Garrison Keillor right about the industry or do those who responded have a better grasp of the current situation? Is muppet sex on stage the reason for all this upheaval? Inquiring minds want to know.
As a footnote, the story round begun yesterday will stay open all week and next weekend I'll pull it all together and post it. So have fun with that as well, guys.