It seems we are on the verge of a major change in the art of wordsmithing. What exactly do I mean by wordsmithing? To me it stands for getting ideas from one person to another through the use of words.
The human race has been “wordsmithing” for many thousands of years. Long before there was the written word, we felt the need to share part of ourselves with others. Storytellers kept the past alive by speaking and singing tales of our creation, myths, battles, heroes, and the history of the tribe/family. The tradition is carried on today with storytelling and folksong festivals all over the world.
The next big step (other than the creation of the written word itself) was to keep a permanent record so that if the storyteller got killed in battle, the history would not be lost. Over time many civilizations learned to record history on everything from clay, to stone, to wax, to paper (papyrus was an early form of paper), but by far the masters of bureaucracy, a fancy term for making sure it is recorded, was the Roman Empire. The reason we know so much about Rome today is because they had so much “paper” that no matter how many times the city burned to the ground or was looted by invaders, there was always something written down that didn’t get destroyed.
So the human race toddled along writing things down. Being a scribe was hard work, but at least you had job security, one square meal a day, and a place to sleep.
Until Mr. Gutenberg came along with his marvelous printing press. We all know what that did to the publishing world. Manuscripts could be mass produced and the rich no longer controlled the distribution of reading material. The middle and even lower classes started to learn to read, realized that they were getting the wrong end of the stick, revolutions and uprisings, pilgrims, Australia…well you get the picture.
So the human race walked along printing books. Being a publisher eventually grew from being a three or four man operation to investing large sums of money in equipment and hundreds of people to run the equipment, find books to print on the equipment, sell the books you’ve printed and keep track of the whole thing. Until someone invented a CRT and a CPU and put them together to make a computer, which someone turned into a PC/Mac which Bill Gates turned into Microsoft, and Steve Jobs turned into Apple. We all know what happened then. Laptops, cell phones, smart phones, and finally e-readers.
So now it seems the human race is poised to run. Yet it’s almost as if we are afraid to step away from the starting block. Print Book or e-book? That seems to be the question of the day in the publishing industry. Why not both? As an author, I know I am happy to have as many outlets as possible for my creative endeavors. I love writing e-books and I love writing for print. As a reader, I love being able to have 200 books on my i-phone and I love turning the page of a novel when I’m in bed late at night. So I’m encouraging all publishers to do both. It can only help. Especially in times like these.
Let me know if you prefer one over the other and why. Or stop by and comment on any of the blogs posted this holiday weekend. I will enter you to win one of three gift cards; a $10 Amazon Gift Card, a $10 Wild Rose Press Gift Card or a $15 Limited Edition Widow’s Peak Visa Gift Card. The winner of the Widow’s Peak Gift card will also be entered in my Super Contest to win one of two art prints. Check out the Super Contest at my blog Never Too Late For Love.
Hanna Rhys Barnes is one of those people with an evenly balanced right and left brain. She has a BA in English, but recently finished her final year as a high school math teacher. She loves to cook and was a pastry chef in a former life. A member of RWA’s national organization and of several local chapters, she currently lives and works in Portland, OR. Hanna’s Debut Novel, Widow’s Peak, is due to be released September 23, 2009 from The Wild Rose Press. She is currently working on Book 2 in the series, Kissed By A Rose.