I remember car shopping not too long ago and trying to find one that still had a cassette tape player. Okay, maybe that was a decade ago, but anyway... all the new cars had CD players in them and I had stacks of cassette tapes I wanted to listen to while driving. How many of you remember vinyl records? Or the first computers, with their behemoth monitors and dot matrix printers?
Nowadays, you can play music off your MP3 player in your car, and computers are condensed down to the size of a coffee table book, yet they can do much, much more than the original ones. You don't have to drive to the record store for you favorite music. You simply hop on the internet and download it instantly at home. And computers are our means of communication, and a source of education and entertainment. Technology is advancing at a mind-blowing exponential rate.
So what does that mean to readers and writers? Hard to imagine, but there's one invention that holds promising possibilities. On Michael N. Marcus's blog he writes about the Espresso Book Machine, which prints books at the push of a button. It was on display recently at Book Expo America in New York City and created quite the buzz. There are also e-book readers, like Amazon's Kindle, which allows you to download a book anywhere there's an internet connection. In one little device the size of a paperback book, you can have multiple books ready for reading. (Personally, I'm waiting to get one until the price comes down a little more, which like all things it will eventually.)
In recent years, mainstream publishers have been experiencing shrinking profit margins due to increasing production and shipping costs and decreasing book sales. This has led to some layoffs within the industry and fewer and fewer books being contracted for publication. Which means new writers are having a harder time than ever breaking in. It may seem like a terrible time to be a hopeful writer, but I believe this is just the lull before things begin to change. How? Only time will tell, but with the internet and all the options it lays before us, print-on-demand publishing and space-age inventions like the Espresso Book Machine, this may actually be a great time to be a writer. Time will tell.