Monday, January 18, 2010

The Future of Publishing as I See It

As I pull up a stark white canvas to take my humble turn at Karin’s wonderful blog, fresh off the road from Kathy Patrick's delightfully wild Pulpwood Festival in Jefferson, Texas, it occurs to me that there’s no topic I’d like to address more right now than the future of publishing. (Note to reader, I’m not so sure I’ve taken my writing to the next level, so we may not go there. Only the muse knows. And may I add in a shameless attempt to hold your attention, that Pulpwood Pics of this most unique festival shall be forthcoming later in this post. )

Ironically, this very question concerning our industry’s future was put to an author panel I shared this past weekend with River Jordan and Deeanne Gist. My fellow panelists took turns speaking eloquently to the topic and then it was my bat. Because I somehow doubt the audience was riveted by my contribution, I’m choosing to consider this my do-over opportunity.

A world without books, could it really be? I can’t remember a day when the feel of a new book between my hands didn’t make my heart skip. I do remember being perched in a treetop scanning a long country road for the parish bookmobile. I can’t remember what life was like before letters made words and words made sentences. I do remember pushing open the bookmobile door and stepping my bare-footed self into my version of Disneyland. Book Land, books high, books low, darn that limit, anyway! How was a girl to choose from the treasures?

No, I can’t imagine a world without books. Many very smart people say I don’t have to, that books will always be with us. Other very smart people say they’ll survive, that nothing will really change. Still other wise souls say they’ll exist, but only as antiques; we won’t tote them around. Seriously, does anyone really know?

As I told the audience this past weekend, in the interest of full disclosure, I have a new Kindle myself. We’re still getting to know one another, but already we have a love/hate relationship. I love its immediacy. I hate its immediacy. The darn thing speaks loudly of what I don’t want said.

I would not have been able to imagine a world without books back when I was skinning my legs shimmying down that mimosa tree before the bookmobile could stop rolling, but I refuse to be scared of the future. For neither could I have imagined the type of access my children and grandchildren would have to the world’s written wealth.

What I wish I would have said to that book-loving audience is that they were seeing the future of publishing, that we were, at that very moment, living it in full color. It’s a brave new world where those who write the words are egged on, pushed, encouraged, and supported in mid-project by those looking forward to reading the words. Talk about throwing gas on a word fire! For those who love to tell stories, the stage seems set like no other time in history. I see the glass half-full.


P.S. If you're still with me, please don't throw things at the screen. About those pics I promised you-- I was just a loading when I was suddenly overcome with the fear that I'd leave someone out! Hence, I offer you one solitary pic of the lady who is doing more for readers and writers than anyone it has been my privilege to know. I give you the inimitable Kathy Patrick posing as Tippi Hedren from the Birds on "Barbie Night". Please note her matching collector Tippi Barbie and the book-- it is signed by Tippi herself!


Anonymous said...


The vision of you shimming down that mimosa tree to the book mobile like a female Huck Finn is priceless. Thanks for the stories.

Shellie Tomlinson said...

You are so welcome. And may I just say that the mystery of an anonymous poster just intriuges me to no end. :)

The Pulpwood Queen said...

Dear Shellie,
God Bless Your beautiful post but about the photo. Could you have selected one that made me look for Tippi Hendren-esque! Well, folks, I guess you now know that I place more importance on my reading than on my green box suit size! hahhahah! I am loving the blogging but I love your books even more. Can't wait for the Sue Ellen book! I had women in today to BUY IT and it's not even out yet!
XXXXOOOOO, fat kat!