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Who killed books in print? Dick Tracy.

Does anyone remember what a buggy whip is or what it was used for? I’m not old enough to remember when they were used, but the companies who made them probably scoffed at the first automobiles, thinking they would never replace the horse and buggy as the primary method of transportation, eventually putting all buggy whip manufacturers out of business.

So, who gets the blame (or credit) for more books being accessed electronically than in print these days? I say it’s none other than, Dick Tracy. Although the Dick Tracy comic strip began in 1931, it changed forever in 1946 with the introduction of the 2-Way Wrist Radio. Following World War II, access to electronic devices by individuals really began to pick up steam. It took another 18 years for Tracy’s wrist radio to take the final step, becoming the 2-Way Wrist TV in 1964.

That’s where it all began. Just like the song, Video Killed The Radio Star, print books were on their way out from that moment. Everyone believed the space race and the resulting technology would soon put a 2-Way Wrist TV on everyones arm and the need for anything in print would be a thing of the past.

The publishing business really changed forever in 2008 and 2009 for two unrelated, but cosmically linked reasons. The publishing world began to take Ereaders seriously in 2008 after Amazon released the Kindle First Generation on November 19, 2007, at a price of $399. It sold out in 5 1/2 and remained out of stock for five months. In 2009, traditional publishing began to crumble as the world economy tanked.

I was recently honored to discuss my publishing experience at a forum put on by the Tulsa Area Writers Workshop. Traditional publishing, where an agent takes on your project to find a publisher was discussed, along with self-publishing.

I self-published my first novel in 2009, but it took another eighteen months for this old dog to learn the new tricks and importance of digital publishing. Sure, all the writers in attendance at the forum said they still prefer to hold a book instead of an Ereader. But, they all own some kind of electronic reading device too. In my experience, Christmas of 2010 was the time when just about every author I know, who didn’t already have an Ereader, got one. Their very own, Dick Tracy 2-Way Wrist TV.

However, print is far from dead. Agents and publishers are still out there, although in fewer numbers and receiving more query letters than ever. Self-publishing, using print-on-demand services like Amazon’s Create Space or Graphic Connections Worldwide, a Tulsa company, allows authors to put a book into print with little or no up front expense using basic computer and graphics skills. It’s just as easy, or easier to get a book onto the electronic platforms of Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords at no cost.

There are more books in print and Ebooks available today than anytime in history. The popularity of self-publishing insures this trend will continue, making it more difficult for authors to gain an audience for their work. For me, it’s a very exciting time to be a self-published author. I do all my own marketing, advertising and scheduling of events. Do I hope to become rich and famous from my writing someday? Well sure. Doesn’t everyone? LOL

What I’m most grateful for is the opportunity to put my work in front of the public and let them decide if it’s worth reading. Writing query letters to agents and publishers is not my style. Do I get bad reviews? Oh yes. Do I get good reviews. Oh yes, and I can see them almost immediately on my Dick Tracy 2-Way Wrist TV, a/k/a Smartphone.

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