Monday, March 30, 2009

Live or Memorex?

I've always been fascinated by technology and how we both we communicate with each other through it but also how it shapes what we say. So when the Kindle 2 came out and it was a product that people were really engaging in, I immediately thought about how does this affect poetry. We know it's a medium for novels and prose text, but what about the poem? Since I still had the layout files for Kali's Blade, I decided to transform the book into Kindle form. Because if I really want to know how this medium changes the face of poetry, I might as well dive right into it.

And not only put it up on Amazon, but also sell it at the special price of $0.99. Unlike the web, which shaped language, the Kindle brings about another important avenue for authors, the price of poetry. How does interacting with poetry on your iPhone change the experience? How does not having physical media to print change how authors make their work accessible to the public? And is the public willing to pay for it? If so, how much?

We know a good poetry book from a small press might sell 100 copies. 1000 copies would be astounding! But even author's who get their texts on their friend's reading course lists will be lucky to hit 1000 copies sold. Let's be honest. Plus how much of the actual cost of the book does an author really get? Not much because of the labor of production. But how many copies could you sell on-line for the right price? And while less and less people have room for shelves, there is growing storage on their computers. But do we want to interact with poetry through technology?

Right now Amazon isn't charging people to put their books on Kindle, so any price is a good price for now, but I suspect like the cuts publishers and distributor's take on paper books, how much Amazon eventually charges will affect the profitability of all of it. And since we're talking business, what of the publisher's, small print distributor's, and book stores? And even the non-businesses like Libraries? Imagine that libraries truly simply become cafes with reading tablets, instead of vast halls of books.

I'm not judging right or wrong, good or bad, I'm simply exploring possibilities. I've already had some lively exchanges with Jean and I'm looking forward to having lively exchanges with any of you!

Kindle Edition (will be up in a few days)


Print Edition