There once was a story (part 2)

There once was a story (part 2)

This is a continuation of a story (about stories) begun in this previous post.  In the first part, we saw how storytelling developed from an idea to an industry.  We paused after the introduction of computers, which eliminated the need for book factories to be able to make stories available to other people.

There once was a story.

Then there were computers.

At first, no one was sure what to do…

For decades, storytellers had worked with publishers to make their stories available.  The publishers had worked with booksellers to get the stories to the readers.

It was now possible for storytellers to make their stories directly available to anyone anywhere.

Storytellers who had never worked with publishers put their stories right out there electronically.

However, these were often inexperienced storytellers.  Some of them were great, but others were unpolished.

For established storytellers, it was more confusing.  Yes, they no longer needed the publishers book factories to get their stories to the readers.  But publishers hadn’t just printed books: they had collaborated on them.

A storyteller might have worked with an editor for decades.  They might even feel a collaboration with a particular illustrator. 

Working with publishers had worked for them.  It wasn’t as easy as just saying good-bye.  Where would they get advances on royalties?  Who would edit the stories?  Who would proof-read them?  Who would take care of all that money stuff?

Authors had to think.

Publishers were also faced with a new situation.  As long as they could continue to get people to buy stories made in the factories, that was good.  Most readers would do that at first.

However, there were things to ponder.  If the authors didn’t need the factories, how would they keep them as their partners?  They could pay them more money for each copy of a story.  They could try other ways to help them make money.

The internet and hand-held electronic book readers meant that they might not need the booksellers.  If stories weren’t being sold in a particular town, did you need the expertise of a bookseller who lived in that town?  Unlike the old factory days, it might be possible for the publishers to become booksellers. 

Publishers had to think.

Booksellers also faced changes.  In the past, they had bought copies of stories from publishers, and then sold them to the public.  The booksellers didn’t have factories.

But, they did have computers.

Could the booksellers become publishers?  Could they deal directly with the storytellers?

The booksellers didn’t have editors.  The publishers, though, didn’t have people who knew how to sell to the readers.

The booksellers had to think.

Readers were in for interesting times.  Since copies could be made without factories, some kind people made stories into electronic books, and made them available for free.  This could be done if the people who wrote the stories not longer had control over made copies, which was the case with a lot of stories.  Governments had given the storytellers the right to control who made copies, but only for so long.  After that time, the stories belonged to the public.  People could always have made copies of them once they were in the “public domain”, but it was expensive to make books and give them away.  Electronic books cost very little to give away, if hardworking volunteers created them. 

Readers had to some extent the role they’d always had: get the stories and read them.

Still, readers had to think.

There were many complications.  Booksellers and publishers had big new paths…and sometimes, they tripped over each other in their eagerness to explore and claim territory.

Authors had new decisions to make.  They had friendships and loyalties, but they had new opportunities as well.

At first, things were very complicated.

Try this.  Try that.  Keep this.  Change that. 

Block this.  Allow that.  Up this.  Down that. 

Keep it secret.  Tell everyone.  Tell no one. 

Let’s do this.  Should we include them?  We don’t trust them.  We used to trust them.  Yes, but they are different now.

Round and round, things whirled.  The internet was like a tornado…grab on to a tree, hide in a bathtub…or grab your surfboard and see where you go.

After a time, things would settle down.  Some would rebuild.  Some would find new homes.

Old friends would become friends again.

Some wouldn’t.

Slowly, things would come back together.

No one was quite sure how, and many were very scared.

Eventually, though one thing was clear.

There was a story to tell.

There would always be stories…

The End…and the Beginning

Tip of the day: the credit card you use in the Kindle store for 1-click does not change for your subscriptions when you change it for everything else.  If you started a subscription on one credit card, that card will continue to be charged until you change it for the subscription.  To change it, go to the Manage Your Kindle page, scroll down to Your Active Kindle Subscriptions, and click Change Payment.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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