E-Books – Is it a genre thing?

A couple of weeks ago a gent named Ewan Morrison wrote an article in The Guardian entitled “Why Social Media Isn’t The Magic Bullet for Self-epublished Authors”.


Basically – what he said was that I’m wasting my time writing this blog entry or posting on my Facebook or even tweeting on Twitter. I ought to just sit down and write and save all of that virtual-shmoozing for the pop icons.

I wasn’t offended. It never bothers me to hear from another viewpoint. Besides, in some ways he is absolutely right. I’ve always known that my next book is going to be sold by my last book which might even sell my book after the next – especially if it is a sequel!

(I may have just given myself an aneurysm with that last sentence – goddamn, did it parse???)

He is likewise right in saying that Twitter and Facebook will someday die. Sure they will. But by then they’ll have been replaced with Nosebook – in which you can virtually sniff your friend’s armpits. The whole world will go around like a pack of wild dogs, sniffing each other’s butts and books on Nosebook.

Look for it in the spring of 2017!

The really interesting part of the story is in the comments section. There are six pages of comments. There would most likely be more – but the comment section was closed off. It’s an old article and I suppose they want to save on bandwidth – but it also felt a little like someone sending in the brute squad to keep a lid on things.

Joe Konrath – e-book champion and writer of the enormously entertaining Jack Daniels series and many other e-books besides – stepped in to comment on how he basically agrees with a lot of what the author had to say but disagreed with the whole notion that e-books were a bubble-phenomenon that would go the way of eight-tracks and Beta digital.

A passing fad.

Now that is blatant bullshit. The e-book is definitely here to stay, in my opinion. They’re still selling calculators, they’re still selling television sets and they’re still selling cellular phones. Some gadgets don’t go away. E-books are one of them.

The thing that folks need to realize is that an e-book is just the same as a traditionally published trade paperback – just in a different format is all. So saying the e-book is the death of the traditionally published book is a little like saying that your kids will be the death of you!

Then Ewan Morrison went on to step over a line.

E-books – he said – are primarily for “genre” writers.

I read a little further, moving my lips while I read, and Ewan Morrison went on to explain that “real” “literary” writers will continue to eschew the e-book.

More bullshit.

When you get right down to it – your average “literary” author is no better or no worse than a “genre” author. The fact is both genre and literary authors have one factor in common.

They’re storytellers.

Oh sure, one of them uses a lot more literary technique and undoubtedly holds his pinky finger extended while he types – but that writer is still nothing more than a storyteller.

And a storyteller wants – more than anything on earth – a consenting audience.

That’s right. We want someone to read our stories or listen to stories.

So most “literary” authors are eventually going to realize that the e-book is nothing more than another avenue towards that most desirable of resources – READERS!!!

That’s right.

Literary authors might be fancy. They might indeed hold their pinky finger extended while they type – but they aren’t stupid!

E-books are here to stay.

Genre authors are welcome to the medium.

Literary authors are welcome to the medium.

There is room in this boat for all us!

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon



8 responses to “E-Books – Is it a genre thing?

  1. Darren Scothern

    Hmm. I read my Shakespeare, Dickens, Brontes, Austen etc on my Kindle. Along with my Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blake, Byron, Shelley, Keats and Milton, actually.

    Funnily enough, such literary greats as the aforementioned Romantic poets were the punk rockers of their era, and the stuffed shirts of the time probably thought THEY would be a passing fad too.

    The guy who wrote the article is something of a fuckwit, but clearly he had column inches to fill, and courting a little cretinous controversy has at least garnered a few readers.

    Ironically enough, e-books will eventually pass away… but only to be replaced by the next generation of reading media, in the same way that books replaced scrolls and clay tablets.

    What will not pass away is storytelling, and reading. There will always be good writers and bad writers regardless of the media. And history shows us that the that the true innovation in literature comes from the non-conformists: the indies.


  2. Ronald L Weston

    I’ve got both Faulkner and Hemingway on my Nook. Thomas Pynchon [you-can’t-get-more-literary-than-that!] just became available on Nook and Kindle. A hell of a lot of Joyce Carol Oates is downloadable. Even T. Coraghessan Boyle’s fiction is just waiting for the press of the finger … along with David Foster Wallace and William Gaddis …. The guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.


  3. Sounds like Ewan wrote a bromide for the traditional publishing industry more than anything else. There is so much wrong with his piece that it’s hard to know where to start. So I won’t. Suffice it to say that most mainstream media articles support the agenda of the multi-national conglomerates that are their bed partners. Probably has always been that way. But the “we’ll tell you what and how to think” mentality falls flat in a world where the internet enables rapid information dissemination. Ewan. Sweetie. Remember hard copy newspapers? Yeah, neither does anyone else. That is what is going to happen to the hard copy book. It’s going to be largely replaced by better/faster/cheaper. Just as the internet killed the newspaper biz, so too are ebooks killing the paper book biz. It’s evolution. Some call it innovation or progress. Always hated by those monopolies whose business model is dependent upon a lack of progress. We can probably go back and find loads of newspaper articles bemoaning the advent of the automobile – but we would have to do it on the internet, because the hard copy wouldn’t be practical to find.

    I do so enjoy the Luddite op eds. How about the next one somebody writes about how price fixing…er, the agency model…is good for strong bones and teeth? Ewan?

    I’ve sold a lot of books this year – 70K so far, none of em 99 centers – and my only publicity mechanism has been twitter and facebook. Writing a bunch of good books helps, but it doesn’t help if nobody has heard of you. Most of the trad authors I know are desperately trying to figure out how to build a platform or increase their reach via social media, at the urging of their publishers. Fact. Because to a limited extent, visibility is visibility, plain and simple. It’s strange that The Guardian isn’t looking to publish articles on how social media has created a whole cottage industry of successful authors making more money than they ever could have with the paper model. I should sell over 100K books this year. In my first 18 months in the business. Twitter was instrumental. So was Amazon. That couldn’t have happened five years ago. And things look good to increase from here.

    I think Ewan and I must respectfully disagree on this one. All the way to the bank.


  4. I read that article and shook my head through most of it, feeling sorry for the old fart who can’t figure out how technology works. He probably still can’t figure out how to set the time on the VCR. Movies are a great example of never going away: We once watched movies on the projector thingies and needed a screen. Then we moved up to VCRs and now we have DVDs. We still love movies and some still watch films, and some still have VCRs right beside their DVD players (Me!). I still play my albums, 8-tracks, tapes and CDs, and I even have a few songs in digital format. Ebooks are here to stay, just like vinyl (which is making a comeback–who’d a thunk it?!)

    As for literature vs genre: I consider literature just another genre. There’s romance, fantasy, literature, mystery, science fiction…. lol

    I agree, Steve. There’s a lot of BS in that article.


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