Eyes Wide Open

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

mysticink_72dpiLast week on my website, I announced the start of my very first Goodreads Giveaway to celebrate Mystic Ink, now in paperback. I was inspired, in part, by Katy Lee’s giveaway back in December. And because, I realized that while the book has been in paperback since late November, no one knew about it!!

It’s still not too late to enter, the giveaway runs until January 31 (open to US residents only, see Goodreads for all contest rules & details).

It’s interesting to me that Goodreads only allows paper books in their giveaways. I’m not sure if that is because of the inherent concern about DRM issues (digital rights management). All I know is that the reader’s world today is vastly different from the one I grew up in.

As a kid, I got my books from two places: the library and the bookstore. That’s it. The format was paperback or occasionally hardcover depending on the type of book. If someone had told me that, in my lifetime, music, movies, and books would be condensed into a digital format accessible on a single device, I would have said, “Awesome. Sign me up!”

Maybe I would have shown a smidgen of disbelief, but not too much. Hey, my reading (and movie/TV watching) of choice has always been science fiction and fantasy. I was one of the kids who watched Star Trek re-runs every day after school and geeked out over Star Wars.

But, because I’m a sci-fi fan, I also know to ask this question: “What is the evil dark side to having everything digital?”

C’mon. We all know there has to be some tarnish on the silver lined cloud of convenience and easy access. As Rumpelstiltskin always says on Once Upon a Time, “Remember,dearie. There’s always a price!”

Here is what concerns me the most. Eventually, maybe not in my lifetime, if all physical copies of books, music and movies become obsolete, who really controls ownership of that content?

Already, courts are working to decide if customers who buy e-books are only leasing them or do they own them? With a physical book, you can give it away, sell it or keep it forever and pass it to your heirs.

Right now, if you buy a book from Amazon or B&N (or whoever), you are only licensing that content. It doesn’t really belong to you, the reader. And someday, if you don’t even have a physical copy of your digital content, that means you have to go through a gatekeeper to buy it, store it, and use it.

A gatekeeper could be a benevolent corporation or maybe a controlling, not so nice, company (or gack – the government!). Today, cloud storage is free, but will it be tomorrow?

Whoa! This all sounds so Orwellian, doesn’t it?

Now with all that said, I do own e-readers (Nook, Kindle), Kindle Fire,and an iPod Touch, in addition to hundreds of physical copies of books, CDs, DVDs/Blue Ray, etc. IMG_1440And, since I’m a writer, I like knowing that my books ultimately belong to me (and I have the control).

I am not advocating that digital content is bad. I love it. If it weren’t for the computer age, I wouldn’t have spent the last 23 years working from home and watching my sons grow to (almost) young men. And my books would probably still be languishing in some slush pile if it weren’t for small presses.

All I ask, dear Scribesters, is keep your eyes wide open and consider the future possibilities.

Hopefully, I haven’t scared you all away. Anyone else see the evil dark side? Or, conversely, the positives of digital content?

12 thoughts on “Eyes Wide Open”

  1. Absolutely, Casey. The proverbial writing is on the wall for book and mortar stores like B&N. How can they compete with the simplicity and convenience of sitting on your couch and pushing a button to get a new book…or the ability to buy said books at a fraction of the cost of the “real” thing? Instead they will be forced to become cafe’s, gaming sites, or find some other “non book” type of vending opportunity. I have yet to see one of those cool “book-making” machines pop up at the local B&N giving patrons the ability to print on demand any book in the “library” of available books, but I see it coming. I’ve heard that RJ Julia’s and other high end independent bookstores are depending on them to substitute for additional book shelf space. It would save the stores millions on delivery, storage, and shipping to eventually shift to an all digital product.

    Yes, there will always be die-hards who want the paper book experience, but a hundred years from now? I’d bet books will be obsolete antiques that will be classified as rare finds.

    1. I’ve heard about those machines too. Expresso, I think is the name. They sound cool. I would hate to see B&N go. I can’t imagine life without a bookstore in my town.

  2. LOL, I’m working on a series of science fiction novels, and one of the issues I thought about was how often/under what circumstances would the characters actually have a paper copy of anything. In one of the books I’m about to submit, the main character gets a paper copy of some orders, and realizes therefore that something is up :-)/

    1. My older son always likes to say “you can’t hack paper!” and I think he’s right!! Thanks for stopping by Margaret. Be sure to stop by and let us know how your sci-fi series turns out!

  3. I adore paper books. Just this week, we decided to turn our junk room into a play room/library. An entire wall filled with books, and each shelf two rows deep. So many books.

    So many trees. So much collected dust (achoo!) So stinking heavy when we move (because I’m not leaving my books behind!).

    Or… I can pick up my e-reader and carry it to the car with its 45 books stored on it. And I didn’t even break a sweat. I am SO buff!

    Love, love, love the costumes… And the warnings of the digital age? Perfect! An excellent post.

    1. Funny, walls lined with books (and stacks on the floor) would describe my bedroom (and living room). I do love my paper books, except I have so many, I can’t find them half the time! E-readers are really good for organization.

  4. For some reason I think a paper book is more personal. Like it required going to a store and picking it out. It’s something you can hold and smell and feel.You can’t do that with an ebook. A lot of the time I just buy them without much thought because it’s too easy now.

    1. I agree with you Sugar! I love to smell books and it is fun to wander the shelves and just discover a new story. Historically, paper has survived millennia while digital is nowhere near as durable.

  5. Oh, how very techie of you. 🙂 I’ve got to be honest, though. I have three ereaders, but still love real books. I am more apt to read them, sitting on my nightstand than the hundreds locked away in my ereaders. I will say the basic kindle, no back-light, is the only one that I feel the next comfortable with. But I don’t like that you don’t actually own the ebooks??? Yikes.

    Hope lots of people are signing up to win Mystic Ink, that stellar book of yours. PEOPLE: DON’T MISS OUT! HECK, DON’T EVEN WAIT WAIT FOR THE DRAWING. BUY IT NOW! 🙂 No seriously, don’t wait.

    1. Oh Katy, thank you for the rousing endorsement! 🙂

      My favorite ereader is either the original Nook or Kindle keyboard (which is lighter). At the moment, I’m reading a paperback (Trapped by Kevin Hearne) and on the Kindle The Age of Innocence. So an older book on the ereader and a new release on paper. Go figure!!

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