First, I would like to thank Katy for giving me this opportunity to “sit in her chair” for a day. While I could spend this time begging you to read my books (sorry couldn’t help myself), I’ve decided instead to use it to wax poetic about the advent of independent e-publishing and its effect on our world.
“The concept of printing was first conceived and developed in China and Korea. Although the concept was conceived by the eastern nations, the first mechanized printing press was invented by a German metalworker named Johann Gutenberg in 1452. Gutenberg did not invent the printing press but rather conceived the idea of movable type which is actually an aggregation of three distinct technologies utilized by humans for many centuries before Gutenberg” (Jones 2007). (http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept10/2010/10/30/printing-press-and-its-impact-on-literacy).
There are still arguments about whether Gutenberg was the first to develop moveable type but suffice it to say, his press was instrumental in the spread of the written word around the globe. By 1500 A.D. there were millions of books in print. This event in history preceded the Renaissance, when only five to ten percent of European males were literate. Your class and occupation also played a major factor in whether you could read and write. Books allowed a larger group of individuals to learn independently from direct verbal conveyance of information.
Jump ahead to the 1990’s. A big jump to be sure, but Katy said to keep the word count reasonable. When Al Gore created the internet, the information age was born.
“In the mid-1990s, many predicted the demise of the printed book, arguing that books would be supplanted by CD-ROMs, online books, and other electronic book (or e-book) technology. Although the printed book continues to flourish, CD-ROMs and Web-based technology has transformed many aspects of the book publishing industry.” (http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Publishing_industry.aspx)
By the end of 2015 almost half of newspapers and magazines were delivered online. While there is no way to determine accurately how many e-books are available online, a quick look at Amazon shows there are 2.6 million Kindle books available today. That is just on Amazon! When you consider all the other formats and resellers, the numbers are overwhelming.
Economically it has been a boon. Just in the United States alone, an estimated 14 billion dollars was spent on e-books last year. That does not include people like my cover artist Justin McCormick or my line editor Tabby DeBruyn who benefit financially from my publishing Family Reunion J (Okay, you really didn’t think I wasn’t going to do that did you?).
So, what are the effects of e-publishing on our world? Just as in the Renaissance, when many scholars proclaimed the world was flat, we have seen that not all the information we get from the internet is equal. “It must be true, it’s on the internet”. As an author I can tell you that there are cons to publishing on the internet, but those are negated by the fact that in no time in history has so much knowledge/entertainment been available to so many in the written word. We are no longer submitting our work to someone in New York to have them approve it and decide if it is worthy of being published. Now anyone can publish a book. Some shouldn’t, but that’s okay, because now it is up to you, the reader, to decide if an author is worthy of your time and money.
Overall, I think that the historians of the future will view independent e-publishing as a societal achievement right up there with Gutenberg’s printing press. To make my point, if you’ve read this far and perhaps clicked on a reference link above, you may have learned something new.
P. Mark DeBryan
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I have always been a bit of a vagabond. Born in Washington, raised in California. I joined the Coast Guard after high school. During my Coast Guard career I was an Admiral’s driver in San Francisco, a deckhand on a 378’ cutter in the Bering Sea, and an Aviation Electrician in North Carolina, Texas and Southern Florida. After I left the Coast Guard I worked security, first guarding MX nuclear missiles, then at a nuclear power plant in California. Eventually I went to college in Wisconsin, only to drop out after meeting my future wife. I went on to finish college at 36 and own a Miracle Ear franchise. I went into publishing for a short time before becoming an Information Systems Specialist. I currently split my time between West (by God) Virginia and Surfside Beach, SC.