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Comment from the book world in June 2011

June 2011

The concept of the book... is dead

27 June 2011

'Although it is hard for many of us to emotionally detach ourselves from the book as an incredible medium, what with all its historical contributions to humanity, we must admit that the concept of the book as the best delivery system for knowledge and information is, in fact, dead.

We are moving toward an ever growing differentiation between the book as object versus content delivery system. As this occurs, we cannot ignore the fact that our lives have been shifting dramatically toward a digitalized experience. This shift is happening not just for the sake of technology; it is happening because we - as in, society - are changing, as is our behavior.

We continually push our creativity to invent an ever changing dynamic of how we deal with the things that surround around us. We are still taking pictures, writing letters, calling friends, watching TV and films, reading newspapers, magazines, and books, going to parties, walking on the beach, playing games, and so on. What has fundamentally changed, however, is how we do all these things. And what we are doing, precisely, is redesigning the experience of all the above, or at least how we go about doing them. This has been evident for some time, so there should no longer be reason for panic.'

Julius Wiedemann, Executive Editor for Design and Director for Digital Publications at Taschen, in the Huffington Post

TV script-writing

20 June 2011

'Writing for television is such a strange world, you have to write up to 25 episodes of a programme each year and you need to create a lot of drama. You end up thinking: "Have we done this before and if we have, will anyone notice?"

What script writing teaches you is to write good dialogue that is character-specific and that pushes the plot forward, and you learn about beginnings and endings - how to structure your scenes and storyline. On the other hand, you also learn to create drama that isn't there; every seven and a half minutes you get a TV ad, so you have to write to that.'

John Stephens, author of The Emerald Atlas in the Bookseller

'Big love'

13 June 2011

'A few weeks ago, I was talking to a group of writers online. The subject was what an author can do for herself if her book isn't chosen to get the "big love" from her publisher. We all knew what she meant: each season, it seems like some books are selected for star treatment - often, but not always, debut novels - and all the rest are left to take off, or more likely, fade into obscurity, without much support. My advice was to make friends with your local booksellers. Booksellers rock. If they like you, they will work so hard to sell your books. But the point is larger than that. It's about how you keep going, despite the twists and turns of the market, which you can't control.

The sad truth is that even if you are the big debut author, the rest of your career may not be so charmed. My first novel sold very well. My third novel sold very well. And now, my sixth novel, The Winters in Bloom, is being called my breakout. I hope it's true (please dear God), but in any case, I've learned that keeping a career going as a writer requires flexibility and a willingness to keep trying whatever I can to get my book in the hands of readers. And so my advice to any new writer is simply this: get in the game. Make friends with your co-workers at the publishers' office and out in the field. Go to your local bookstores and offer to come for a reading, or even offer to run a writing group. Buy a book or two from the stores you want to sell your books. Read as much as you write, if not more.

Recognizing that you're part of a business doesn't mean you're a sell-out or anti-art. I always think of the Wordsworth quote: "What we have loved, others will love, and we will teach them how." I have to believe that if I write from my heart, as well as I can, someone will see what I was trying to do. So while I won't chase trends, I will rely on my friends to help me. And the best part? My book biz friends are all readers. They love books, and sometimes, if I'm very lucky, they fall in love with mine.'

Lisa Tucker, author of The Promised World in Publishing Perspectives