Matt Staggs pointed this book out today and… well. All right the book is called The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books. It sounded really fun and interesting.
From the book description: In The Late American Novel, Jeff Martin and C. Max Magee gather some of today’s finest writers to consider the sea change that is upon them. Lauren Groff imagines an array of fantastical futures for writers, from poets with groupies to novelists as vending machines. Rivka Galchen writes about the figurative and literal death of paper. Joe Meno expounds upon the idea of a book as a place set permanently aside for the imagination, regardless of format. These and other original essays by Reif Larsen, Benjamin Kunkel, Victoria Patterson, and many more provide a timely and much-needed commentary on this compelling cultural crossroad.
And hey, that sounds neet-o to me at least. Of course I also really want this book about fonts so I might be strange. Either way, The Late American Novel looked like something I would pick up in a heartbeat.
And I would’ve, actually, ordered it in a heartbeat, except that the book itself isn’t available in an electronic format. Now, it isn’t that I only read new books on my Kindle, I don’t, at all. But I feel that if you are offering a book about the future of books, and want to be taken seriously, you can’t only offer your book in a paper format. If you’re serious then you have to be serious.
Now, this book is from a small press it looks like and maybe Amazon simply hasn’t gotten around to adding it yet. It’s possible, but I don’t know. Either way it shows me something important. Your format choices tell a consumer a lot about how you think and where you stand.
Both Stays Crunchy in Milk and I Slept With your Imaginary Friend are available as paper books, Kindle format on Amazon and, most importantly, on Smashwords. Why is that important? Because over there they are obtainable in every electronic format we could think of. HTML, epub, PDF, RTF, Sony Reader format, Palm Doc, plain text and yes, as Kindle formatted .mobi but with a difference – NO DRM. None of the formats have DRM. And that’s where I stand on the issue. Zero DRM can be obtained in any format you want. For me that’s part of the future, a future without DRM.
But by showing me that they aren’t going the distance to provide for, or think about, the future they’re supposed to be writing about, The Late American Novel won’t get my money. And that’s a shame. Because it does look like fun. However I will also promise – if I see a Kindle version of the book I will buy it right then. Just to give them props for getting there.
I think what it is, for me, is that people who write about the future and come across as scared of it from the jump just don’t win me over.
EDITED TO ADD: One of the editors of the book left a comment on this post that states: “Thanks for taking a moment to write about and consider the book. The official release date for the book is March 1st. It will be available at that time on Kindle, Nook or whatever you prefer. We hope you give it a try. Thanks. – Jeff” So, note that it is an Amazon thing that made this seem odd. Also note, that as promised, I will buy the book as soon as it is out, and will read it as soon as time permits.