Going On The Account: Did You Hear What’s In Dry Dock…?

So when is a book still a book?  And will what we call it now still apply even a decade off?


Where this comes from is, I’m having lunch today with my wife at the Columbus Circle Whole Foods, a treat and a diversion after we dealt with some business in the neighborhood.  (It’s not that common an occurrence for us; there’s a reason this place has the nickname of  “Whole Paycheck,”after all…)  Because of the way the seating is under there for people trying the salad bar, it’s cafeteria style with people at low benches seated next to each other, sitting face to face with total strangers , whom I assume the people designing this had intended would allow diners to meet and greet new folks.  All of which ignored the tendency New Yorkers and many people in dense areras have of putting up their own barriers to keep their reserve.  Which is understandable; if humans didn’t do that, time spent on long voyages at sea under decks and for more than a week in a typical New York apartment would be unbearable…


So my wife and I are having parallel discussions alongside two young ladies, one of whom is discussing her book for her creative writing program.  It sounded like she was doing everything people on the right path trying to get a book done would do, talking to her advisor, visiting Oxford, MS, and making contact with people where John Grisham cut some teeth, all the stuff people on the other side are doing.  This being as opposed to what I ended up doing, getting out there and having my ass handed to me and turning that into something to talk about…


So here I am, budinski*-esque in my own way hearing these two go on about their lives right in front of me in a public place (and not bothering to put their trash away when they finished their meal, giving this discussion some small justification), and the novelist-to-be discusses how her book has some video components tied to it that she was working on with a collaborator that would set up each chapter.  Her big issue at the moment was wondering if the Kindle was going to be able to stream these properly when she made these available.



The big takeaway from this, and the justification for behaving here like Jeb Stuart Magruder, is the fact that we’re looking at people in creative writing programs in ivory towers actually discussing format issues.  Format issues!  And she and her friend did not give off a vibe that indicated that they were part of the usual output group that sets format standards


It stresses what has been seen here in the trenches, that what people before now had presumed would be the distributor’s headache is now being taken up by the writers themselves at the level of creation.  It’s testament to the Information Revolution having it’s impact, giving the creators more say early on than they had before.  And maybe it’s not the newest of news, but the fact that some groups that don’t have the greatest of reputations for being on the edge are now starting to consider this means that this has gone from observation through trend right through to established truism.


Truth to tell, I’ve had some folks ask if I wanted to do some of my work as a graphic novel.  Lord yes!  And if I could bring the proper artistic talent to it, I might do something to it; as it stands right now, my skills are such that I think ORDER OF THE STICK has the field all to itself…


But there’s the other side to it, that if even in closeted academic circles the idea of a book no longer being just words on a page is becoming the norm, what that means when the crowd at large has to tackle the issue.  Will the audience follow along when that occurs? Will they be able to go the path these authors set?  And what happens when Vox Populi gives a raspberry to the effort?

Speaking of the voice of the people, what would you like to see?  Is the old format still good, or would you want something a bit more involved if it  were available?  I do want to know, because it’s questions like that that come up that are worth asking.

As Flaubert might have said had he the tools, the phone lines are now open…



* Yes, I am aware that budinski  may not be the best word here, as I did not butt directly into their lives and try to tell them how to live, which all said was probably a good idea.  Unfortunately, the closest I could come up with was yenta, which while it’s closer to describing  my anti-social activities has the problem of not having a readily summonable masculine component.  I invite anyone reading this who could add a better word to the lexicon to offer it; if you want to call me a shit for listening in on these two, then hey, I probably deserve it anyway…

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