Saturday, March 05, 2011

Sell Abrasion

As part of "Read an E-Book Week" I'm giving away Kissing You is Like Trying to Punch a Ghost. Just go to Smashwords between March 6th and 12th and enter coupon RE100. All I ask in return of readers is they eventually write a review on Smashwords, Goodreads or Amazon.

I've been thinking about how it's an interesting time to be both a reader and a writer. There used to be such a divide between the two- fans interacting with their heroes over autograph tables, at best- but now, with all the routes that exist, the table has collapsed. Some mystery may have been lost but in many ways both sides have gained a voice and a face. Publishers and writers can no longer treat the public the same way. They have to engage them head on, listen to them, respond to them. And yeah, maybe some people don't need to be heard. But at least everyone gets a chance to prove it.

Something happened over the past few days that capped off what I had been thinking about. On March 1st, The Information by James Gleick was published. It's a non-fiction title, a history and theory of information and communication, appropriately. On March 2nd nothing happened. On March 3rd I walked into a library, noticed it on the shelf and borrowed it. All normal, but the interesting part happened on March 4th. To join in on the #fridayreads tag, I mentioned on Twitter that I was reading that very book. A little while later Pantheon Books, the publisher of The Information, retweeted my statement and included James Gleick's Twitter name with it, meaning Gleick himself, being an active participant of Twitter, almost definitely saw it. That's it, that's the end of the story, but the fact that it's almost commonplace now shows how far we've come, because what it means is this: three days after a major publishing house released their latest title, I, a reader, had been directly heard by both the publisher and the author. Compared with how things were even five or ten years ago it's almost shocking to be that visible, that connected with a book. There used to be a steel plate between the two sides. Now the wall is paper.

I'm curious to see where we go from here. Technology isn't inherently good or evil, I believe, like any man-made device. A hammer can be used to build a house or bludgeon a skull. There's a responsibility on both sides not to abuse the new handshake.