Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Holiday Cheer: The Future is Coming.... at Some Point

I am currently on blog holiday, and am re-posting some refreshing concoctions from Christmases past.

A special note on this post: I wrote it on June 4, 2007, and I think it summed up the mood at the time, which was pre-Kindle and pre-recession. My how things change in a year and a half.


This past Saturday night I went to the Greek Theatre in Berkeley to watch The Arcade Fire, and let me tell you, those crazy Canadians can sure put on a good show! In case you haven't heard of the Arcade and the Fire that occurred there, they are a sort of orchestral indie rock band that exploded onto the scene with their debut album and then solidified their standing with the follow-up. If they come your way, I highly recommend that you check them out.

Anyway, BEA is over, and this just in from the participants: it was hot. Really hot.

Also at BEA: publishers, authors and booksellers wondering how new technology and our new robot overlords will affect the world of books. The New York Times, of course, was all over this.

From Camp "I love the taste of chrome in the morning" you have Chris Anderson, who is contemplating releasing his new book for free online (the book is conveniently titled FREE), only it will have advertisements inside. And from Camp "Die you robot scum" you have.... well, no one was willing to denigrate our robot overlords on the record for fear of retribution, but the Times article quotes some people who express a sense of inevitability and mild fear about the coming changes.

Now personally, although I joke about the publishing industry's reluctance to embrace certain mind-boggling new technologies such as, uh, e-mailed query letters, I feel that the publishing industry often gets a bad rap for being left behind in a world of new technologies. To my eye, this isn't the case. Publishers are investing lots of cold hard cash in new technology-based publishing initiatives to be ready for changes in the marketplace, but so far... things haven't changed all that much. Sure, you have more online marketing, Internet piracy is becoming more of a problem, Amazon and other online vendors loom large, independents are struggling from competition from chains and the Internet, but the vast majority of books are still bought in stores, are published by the same publishers, are printed in paper and ink.... etc.

So the next time you see the publishing industry criticized for being unreceptive to technological change, or the next time you hear someone talk about a coming massive change in publishing that the industry is catastrophically unprepared for, think about how little has actually changed in the last 10 years. Sure, things are going to continue to evolve, and it's possible that I'll see something like a digital revolution during my publishing lifetime, but until people decide that they want to read on PDAs and screens than hold a book in their hands, things will continue to stay relatively the same.

It's not that publishing is behind the technological curve. The industry is just giving people what they want.

6/4/07






11 comments:

laughingwolf said...

happy new year to you and yours, nathan

lotusgirl said...

still so true about the industry just giving the people what they want in the technology arena.

Hope your new year comes in well!

swati said...

Your blog has really helped me this year as I went through the querry letter writing and agent searching process, and this seems as good a time as any to say thanks and happy new year!

ryan field said...

I would have agreed with you in June 2007.

Have a good New Year.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Nathan,

You know, I missed that last post on confidence the first time around, and it's brilliant. Intestinal fortitude is a great thing - though I'm thinking seriously of switching to the alcohol method... it sounds more fun :-)

Happy New Year to you and the new Mrs! I hope 2009 brings you brilliant new authors and many joys. And thanks, for all of the great posts and fun contests - they must be a lot of work for you and we do appreciate it greatly.

A Paperback Writer said...

This is almost funny.
Wow.
Well, Nathan, when I was 11 years old and watching a preview of Star Wars in a movie theatre, I turned to my friend and informed her that I thought nobody was going to bother to watch a dumb movie about space battles.
I was wrong, to say the least.

Fortunately, you're an agent, not a seer. Don't go into fortune reading any time soon.
But happy new year anyway.

Scott said...

I still want books the old way, but just downloaded two for free. Needless to say, I wasn't all that choosy about them. Or maybe, I just didn't appreciate them as much because I didn't drive to the store and lay out an Andrew Jackson a piece for them. We, as consumers, maybe should be careful what we wish for. We may end up ruining a good thing.

Have a great new year Nathan and all. Off to talk to some friends about buying books after they're loaded.

wordvar: koniti n. 1. a charades type game involving acting out lyrics to popular songs so that others may guess the title. He knew she was doing "Venus" when she stood naked inside the open suitcase.

Anonymous said...

Better keep your day job, Nathan! LOL

Happy New Year to you and yours, and to all the NB-LA readers!

Call me PESTSHER--after the word verification. It sounds appropriate! ;)

Usman said...

But technology isn't only about PDA's; its mush more than that.
Distribution and publishing models is the key word here.
How do you make books(read paper) compete with time people spend on the internet, TV, or video games, and movies.

dan said...

Nathan

from danny Bloom, Tufts 1971

Here is the true media backstory: straight from the horse's mouth:

QUOTE: "Over at The New Republic blog The Plank, the magazine's
editors offer a helpful recap of *how* their reporter successfully
exposed a Holocaust memoir as a hoax."

It's true, Gabe Sherman did a terrific reporting job exposing how that
hoax memoir came to be. He deserves a Pulitzer award for that kind
reportage, really, because he took material supplied to him by several
sources and went even deeper and found amazing quotes from people
directly involved in the backstory, inforamtion that
nobody—nobody—ever knew for certain before—and certainly never said in
public before.

But there is one thing you should know, Sara, and I am sure Gabe won't
mind me telling tales out of school. Gabe never heard of Herman or his
cockamamie backstory before a reporter who had been investigating the
matter for 2 months, based in Taiwan, go figure, called Gabe up at
midnight and badgered, pestered and cajoled him for three days and
nights into agreeing to take on this "assignment".

What the TNR does not mention, not anywhere, I guess it is natural and
for promotioanl reasons of their own, is that their TNR reporter had
no idea about this "story" before he was contacted by me. And at
first, for the first two days of my barrage of emails and phone calls,
Gabe resisted, said he was busy with other things, and besides, how
did i know all these things—I knew, Sara, I knew, but according to my
promises to my sources deep with the investigation, I could not go
public with what I knew, and that's okay, from here in Taiwan, I did
not have a platform to publish what I knew anwyays.

So I spent 8 weeks trying to find a reporter in the USA who would
listen to me, and believe me, and act. Gabe, who didn't know me from
Adam, at first was skeptical of this unknown blogger in far away
Taiwan calling him at all times of the day, and badgering his email
box with over 5o emails of names, tips, addresses, phone numbers, the
whole megillah, and at one point, Gabe—and I love the guy, he is salt
of the Earth and an ace reporter and he did the perfect job, nobody
else in US journalism could do what he did on this story, and I deeply
respect and admire him—Gabe at one point in our phone chats told me to
stop bugging him, stop calling him, stiop emailing him, and to go
away.

Go away? No way. Not when I had the goods on Herman, and took it on as
my self appointed mission to try to stop that book from coming out
before it was published. Against the advice of those who were advising
me in the ongoing investigation group.

They told me to "chill" and "give it a rest, Danny" and "we aren't
ready yet to go to the media, our reserach wont' be ready until the
end of January"—and i understood their concerns, but i knew
instinctively, Ben that if the book was published, once it was out of
the warehouse and into the bookstores, the damage would be done, the
book would be very hard to stop, what with all the coming Oprah PR and
the book tours and all the AP and Reuters stories about this lovely
couple, so I acted alone, on my own heartfelt instinct, that the time
to act was ASAP.

I didn't know Gabe from Adam either. Never heard of him before. Of
course, I have been out of the USA for 20 years or so, so I am not
familiar with the new names in NYC and DC journalism, so I didn't know
him.

How did I find him? Good story, Sara, and glad you asked. ...[SMILE]

I was carrying out my investigation here in Taiwan of the Herman hoax
case using the internet and the blogosphere as my tools, plus my hunch
from the get go that the BLIND DATE part of the book was impossible,
not in this Universe, but a sweet touch, but completley off the wall,
so i was googling every search window I could find about earlier
hoaxes.

And i found one item about a book by a child soldier nbamed Ishamel
Beah, and there was a big to do about this in Slate magaizne, writteny
by, are you ready?—drum roll—Gabriel Sherman!

I think YOU were quoted in that story, too, Sara. Small world, getting
smaller every day.

So i emailed him in a jiffy, found his website and emailed him, and he
wrote back in Internet time, "Danny, sounds interesting, Call me or I
will call you."

Well, of course, he didn't call me. Nobody ever calls me back. Story
of my life. So I called him.... the very next day, and dished. I told
him everything I knew in a one hour phoen call,—My dime my time. He
said "all this is very interesting, Danny, but how do you know? It's
some people's word against Herman's word, and who are you? Why are you
so obessed with this story?"

So we said goodbye on the phone, I told him I would email him more
damning news tip I had in my files, from top historians involved in
the case, and he said, Okay, keep me informed.

I thought I had landed my fish, my big fish. The fish i needed to land
the final punch somewhere in thte USa media landscape.

The top reporters at the NY Times and your own PW would not answer my
emails at all at first and then eventaully the Times reporters just
said , Yeah, we know about this issue, but we are mulling it over.
"Mulling it over"? It will take too long to mull it over. We need to
act now. Before the book is out. stop it in its tracks. PW never
answered at all. Shame on PW! Fire them all! Kidding.

So I kept up my badgering campagn with dear ol' Gabe, who must be all
of 30, and here I am , all of 60, oi, and I never gave up. I knew he
was the guy to do this story, to pull the rabbit out of the hat, so to
speak, to lift the lid on this Pandora's Box of fabircations by a
sweet old man. I like Herman. I never had any animostiy against him. I
just wanted to epose the blind date thing.

That was my sticking point. that is was got me invovled in this, when
i read a newspaper acocunt from the AP on October 12 about Herman and
the applkes and Roma and the blind date. Impossible, i said. I called
the AP reporter in Miami who wrote the AP story and said Matt, this
could not be true.

He said,"Danny, it's what they told me. Who are we to question their
story? Until a smoking gun can be found, the media cannot report what
you are saying, Danny. Sorry."

So i started looking for the smoking gun. I found many. Not on my own.
I am no historian, no forensic expert, i am a nobody. Just a lone
blogger with a mission. So ....I alerted the media in the USa all of
October and November and early December. The entire USa media force,
including PW, ignored my emails and phone calls. The Miami Herald,
too. I spoke the features editor there, he said, "thanks for calling,
interesting news tips: but he never acted.. Just sat on this story..

anyways, back to gushing narrative of this story: I knew by Dec, 19 ,
i had to find a reporter , soon, do or die moment, so i kept bugging
Gabe until he finally said, "Look, Danny, you sound like a nice and
sane man, but please, enough of this calling me and emailing me
already...go away. leave me alone. I will make some calls, like you
suggested, using your leads and contacts, and let's see if there is a
story here."

The rest is history, cultural history of our times, sad tragic
Holocaust history, too, and GAbe made it happen. The man!

So that's the backstory of the backstory, and if you don't beleive a
word I typed, because most people never believe a word I say — I don't
know why, I am always right —.kidding -- in fact, i am often wrong --
....ask Gabe!.

He's on CNN and NPR and Canada TV now and it;s great. More power to
him. He helped expose a very sad and tragic episode in Jewish life.
And in American life and Oprah life. And in the publishing world. And
in Holocaust history.

I salute his groundbreaking reportage, and consider him my brother for
life! OKAY, enough of this tale told out of school.—Danny, checking in
from a small village in southern Taiwan where nobody ever heard of
Rosenblat and has no idea what I am doing in the Internet cafe every
day, moving on to other things now......

How's that for an interesting story,Sara, typed in a ligtning
speed,, typos and all, mis-spellings and all?

Marjorie said...

And with technology comes a glorious new arena: self-publishing. This option allows any writer to get her work out there and avoid demeaning rejections... which can be quite thwarting and serve to diminish self-esteem.

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