I don't own a kindle so perhaps it's ironic that Geraldine Steel is the number one bestselling female detective on amazon kindle. But although a devotee of print books, and a self-confessed techno-ignoramus, I've never been against e-readers; it seems to me there's a place for both print and electronic books. For many people kindles are ideal: travellers, students who want instant access to research tools while reading, people with limited storage space, and many others.
Yet we shouldn't ignore the risks that electronic books pose.
Without production and distribution costs, self-publishing will be readily available to all. Companies offering a self-publishing service are already burgeoning. But is it a threat or a wonderful opportunity that electronic books look set to revolutionise the publishing model, a move that is bound to signal the demise of the bookshop and diminish the role of the publisher?
Of course not all self-published books are second rate, any more than all traditionally published books are well-written. Nevertheless the publishing process provides a filter, albeit a flawed one, as well as an editing and proof reading service. Remove that filter and you pose the danger that the market will be swamped with books that haven't been professionally edited or even proof read. Working alone, writers can be forgiven for not producing near perfect manuscripts. No one can be writer, editor and proof reader all in one.
But if writers skimp on employing editors and proof readers, standards will inevitably fall until the concept of the book is devalued to the point where it ceases to have any meaning at all, indistinguishable from self-indulgent ramblings written by people lacking any talent for writing. Yes, I would defend the right of anyone to write what they want (so long as it isn't offensive) but I'll be worried if we cease to distinguish between quality prose that has taken years to perfect, and incoherent drivel that has been dashed off without revision.
This article first appeared in Crime Time Magazine http://www.crimetime.co.uk/mag/index.php/showarticle/1937
Leigh Russell writes the Geraldine Steel series of crime thrillers.
CUT SHORT, ROAD CLOSED, DEAD END
amazon kindle's number 1 female detective