Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ding Dong The Book Is Dead

SAY WHAT?? Oh, man I hate hearing this. When Garrison Keillor announced in May that publishing was dead, a lot of people threw themselves out of ground floor library windows. Or at least threw out their cassette tapes of Prairie Home Companion. When I heard this I threw myself off the couch.

Rubin Pfeffer

When Gutenberg printed his big book back in 1450-something, a lot of calligraphers stabbed things with their quills and threw lamp black ink out their windows.

Having just returned from the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conference in LA, I am inspired, pumped, and curious about this quantum leap in publishing. The times they are a changing. My agent, Rubin Pfeffer, in his key note speech (which rocked the house) urged the organization to transform itself into an ebook publisher. He challenged authors and illustrators to get a handle on the fact that "the world wide market for digital publishing will be very, very large".

Rubin took pains to emphasize that the changes are, "Not instead of, but in addition to..." (the traditional book form). I love the fact that he said, "Our challenge will be to remain high above all the poor quality material out there."

This is a huge discussion, which will unfold in ways we can't imagine. Pfeffer says, "With books being reinvented, we must be innovative in creating content that can leverage the multimedia capabilities of technologies like the iPad." . Although I don't have an iPad yet, I am making one out of cardboard, tape and tin foil just to tide me over.

Going to this conference was seriously inspiring, but also provided the occasional surprise. Such as helping Jay Asher, Rachel Vail, and Carolyn Mackler into their Cupid costumes. Those wings offer up engineering challenges you wouldn't believe.

I loved being back in L.A.. So-Cal is my stompin' grounds. You never know what you are going to see, like the space age gas station (above). Last time I was here the police blocked off the street during a bank robbery in progress, with me trapped in front of the bank.

In the lobby of the Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel, with writers and bloggers extraordinaire, Jolie Stekly, Jaime Temairik, Martha Brockenbrough, and Molly Blaisdell.

Me and blog buddy, Julia Kelley.

RJW with Ann Whitford Paul, and mi hijo, Jesse. Ann's book on writing for children is one of the best I have ever found: Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication. Jesse has an amazing new picture book coming out in the fall, HOPE FOR HAITI.

Like musician and poet, Paul Simon said, "If you want to be a writer, find a humble pen." Or make that~find a humble digital device.

There is fo-sho a publishing revolution underway. Books will change, and books will stay the same. Both. But however we receive our content, remember this:

"Of the making of books there will be no end." ~Ecclesiastes 12:12

6 comments:

Bryan said...

Great post, Richard. I hadn't known about Jesse's upcoming book, actually. I'll be watching for it!

MollyMom103 said...

Good times.

Martha Brockenbrough said...

Oh, what a conference! I loved seeing you and Jesse (and Molly). Rubin was amazing, wasn't he?

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Hi Bryan. Yeah, it's an amazing book. Comes out this fall. Say hello to the weather in Arkansas.

Molly, Molly, Molly. So nice to see you in LA. Hope you were encouraged from the conference. Say hi to the weather in Texas.

Martha May, we loved seeing you as well. Thanks for all your great blogging. Yes, Rubin was amazing. But wait, it turns out *you* are amazing. So.

Kjersten said...

Great to see you there, Richard.

jesse joshua watson said...

Had a blast hanging out with me old man. Glad you had fun, too. And, yeah, Rubin is a ninja wizard master in the publishing world. When he talks, people listen. :)