With the release of the iPad this weekend, I thought that I would take some time to discuss what will likely be a continuously evolving discussion of technology in the arts. Apple has consistently been at the forefront of technology dealing with music and video for years now. As any who have been following the buzz or watched the keynote address about the iPad will know, Apple also hopes to add books/magazines/print media to that. Products like the Kindle have been around and have certainly set the precedent, but Apple seems to have a penchant for upping the ante with creating or boosting markets to new heights.
I’d like to think that I will always buy hard copies of books. I said the same about CD’s when everyone starting purchasing mp3’s a few years back. But even I eventually found it much easier to hear a song on the radio and within seconds be listening to the entire album. So does this mean the end of bookstores? I certainly don’t see too many CD stores around much anymore. Luckily, I think the culture of bookstores and the tactile book experience will keep these companies afloat for at least a few more years. If Amazon didn’t put them out of business, then there’s still hope for survival.
So what does this mean for authors and writers? Well, for one, a shift into the digital world can in many ways equal out the playing field. It appears that Apple is still pairing with the large publishing companies for their main source of titles and print media. However, I see no reason why upstart writers with no large company backing will begin to show up on the virtual shelves. Essentially, the future will require only an idea and a computer to write and “publish” a book and sell it. If YouTube has taught us anything, it’s that anyone can be famous for any reason, whether good or bad. I’m starting to see “going viral” as the new American Dream realized, just replace Westward Expansion and the gold rushes of the previous centuries with the serious underdog coming up big and making millions in the 21st century. We’ve truly seen a Renaissance of the output of individuals in all fields over the past decade or so, and it’s all thanks to the increases accessibility and decreased cost of production and market access.
So what does this do for the world of words? Well, the good news is that I see a future of a continued increasing of productivity that will likely give us some of the greatest works ever written. Unfortunately, we’ll have to sift through the mounds of garbage to find it. I’ll certainly get into this on a later post, but the good thing is that even that process of sifting has been streamlined. And much like we’ve seen with the newspaper industry, it means that the traditional model of production and sales has been turned upside-down. This in many ways means that there are more opportunities out there, but writers must be creative and adaptive to the quickly changing world. They must also be ready on the business end by keeping up with online publishing trends/procedures, finding creative advertising solutions, and turning yourself into a self-sustaining business. Now might be a good time to take an Intro to Business class and make friends with computer savvy people who can help you get where you want to be. One small mistake or missed opportunity can make the difference between the next-big-thing and the next-big-nobody-knows-about-this-dud.