January 2012

The Ongoing Debate on the Value of Ebooks

Ai carumba, I am so tired of the debate on either side of how ebooks are good/bad, creating jobs/killing bookstores, good/bad for the environment. As a publisher of primarily digital books, my time, effort and soul is poured into creating books, most of which come out as digital only formats. I have been looked down upon by the literati – those who ‘love the smell of the paper and glue’ and shunned by local bookstores who think of them as cheap and ugly.

Now the latest argument is that ebooks erode our values – as touted by the talented Jonathan Franzen. He – along with others – state that the lack of permanence of ebooks represents societal demise, where nothing we own can be trusted. True, much of what we used to consider our own is now ‘licensed’ – music, movies, now books. Many lament that their art doesn’t sit upon the wall or a shelf, ready to be gazed upon and pulled out to view when we want to – like 50 years from now.

My problem with this permanence sentiment is that it is a very narrow, mostly western view of recent history only. For the majority of history, most of our art and stories have never had permanence. It has been played out and told as stories passed down by generations in the form of words and hand gestures, both of which lack the ‘permanence’ that printed matter has. I’m not saying that art shouldn’t have permanence, without it we wouldn’t know about Shakespeare’s talents or Dante’s story. But this view that the sky is falling because we have ebooks is a narrow one and one that lacks the full vision of what ebooks are doing for many people.

First and foremost, ebooks have opened up the door for many authors to publish their books. Sure some of them aren’t so good, but many are, and it’s a wonderful thing that they are getting read, even if by just a few people. Almost equally important is what technology has enabled for readers. No longer are books relegated to those who can afford them, but can be shared among friends for almost next to nothing. Case in point is a $24.95 print book which can be shared by many for $4.99. In a world where we are titillated by apps, movies, television, isn’t it nice that we might be reading more – regardless of what we’re reading it on?

When I first got started in this business, I had a lot of preset notions to overcome and a lot of ignorance on what ebooks were. I was kind of hoping we were past all that? I guess not. But the latest argument in the anti-ebook debate about the lack of permanence of our societal e-stories is just wrong. The stories told by countless generations of first nations peoples and tribal cultures around the world are not any less relevant and meaningful than the stories we write on paper. According to those mentioned above, these stories are less valuable than our paper ones because the words might change from generation to generation.

I don’t know what your answers are, but I believe that we can’t really own anything, permanence doesn’t exist and the desire to keep things such is a fruitless venture. Live in the now, that’s all we have. The words we read in this now, no matter what they’re printed on remain imprinted in our memories and on our hearts. That’s what important. That we had the experience of those stories. And thanks to ebooks, we have more of those experiences and those stories.

ireadiwrite Publishing is Now Central Avenue

We’re pleased to announce that ireadiwrite Publishing has now become Central Avenue Publishing.

When this business first started, it was under a much different business model than what we have now. We were essentially a supported DIY outfit, where we’d help distribute whatever a writer had out to readers – hence the name ireadiwrite. Since we’ve evolved into a more traditional publishing house, I’ve been wanting to change the name for some time, but haven’t pulled the trigger. The start of a new year seems as good a time as any, so here it is – Central Avenue Publishing, or Central Avenue for short. We hope you like it.

There are currently two books officially published under Central Avenue and all new books will fall under that imprint. Books currently published under the ireadiwrite imprint will remain so.

With this change, we’re pleased to release our new Winter 2012 catalogue. You can download it here.

Other than the new imprint name, it’s business as usual. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Poetry by Gautam Sen

We are the home of a bounty of wonderfully talented writers – and poets. Gautam Sen is our only author from India and has penned the fantastical and fun family story – The Fantabulous Fens, a moving and moral story for all ages.

We’re proud to post two of Mr. Sen’s poems which recently appeared in an international Poetry Magazine. We’re proud to be the publisher of his book and to offer these beautiful poems to you.

Adventure

This, too, is adventurous —
Not scaling Kanchenjunga
Or Mount Everest,
Not crossing the Atlantic
Solo in a boat,
Not country-hopping
In a gas balloon,
Not exploring
The jungles of Africa,
Not trekking across the sandy Sahara;
But brushing my teeth,
Yes brushing my teeth
As if it were,
When it’s time to brush my teeth,
The most important task
In the whole wide world,
Brushing them alertly,
With full attention,
Applying myself to the strokes of the brush
In front of my mouth
And behind,
A its hidden corners
And up and down,
Not missing out on the circular motions
That dentists recommend,
And scrupulously keeping at bay
The sad or happy thoughts,
The obsessions,
The ecstasies,
The awesome worries and perplexities,
That threaten to wildly rush in
And take possession —
This giving the so-called minor acts their due,
This true democracy of the spirit,
This pushing out the intruder
Seeking mental entry,
Grappling with it,
Absorbing its blows,
This struggle no one notices
Or appreciates,
This quiet overcoming,
This victory of order over chaos
That nowhere makes headlines,
That you cannot talk about with x or y or z
And get yourself understood —
This, too, is heroism of a kind,
Heroism of a different brand;
This is everyday romance,
No less adventurous,
No less glorious
Than, more sensationally,
Fighting bulls in Spain
Or floating, televised,
In outer space.
 

Trauma

How is it, but how is it
That though the words are much the same
In the Book of Life,
Some meanings suddenly
Have changed?
All tears were water
Till the other day.
And ran in rivulets;
Today my own are dry —
They do not run,
They splinter
into broken sighs!
And rocks …
Yes rocks were solid
Dependable things
That wouldn’t budge an inch
When it came to the crunch …
I’ve seen them crumble into dust
At the first touch
Of an avalanche,
And like a flock of perching birds
Upset by gunshot,
Disperse like panic
In the wind.
Though the words are much the same
In the Book of Life,
There are those
That are differently disposed
From how they were
Before:
Supposedly quiet words explode
And others, considered loud,
Retire into corners
And absently doze.