Sunday, 20 February 2011

Back from Conference

What a day at my 2nd Get Writing conference at Hatfield University, organised by the good people of Verulam Writer's Circle. So now my creative batteries have been recharged for another year, filled with inspirational and motivational speaking from publishers, agents, buyers and of course the writers.
The difference between last years and this years is the rapid growth of technology. I cannot recall Twitter being mentioned at all last year and yet this year it was not just mentioned but indeed promoted. One speaker went so far to say "if you're a writer and you don't use Twitter...why?" Personally I don't get it. I haven't got to grips with how to use Twitter in a functional way in terms of networking with people within the literary world and having to do this within 140 characters. When it comes to words I can't see myself being that economic. I have a Twitter account, and I use it to promote this blog, but I'm not reaching the right Twitterers.

Kindle has taken the book world by storm, with millions of people giving them as presents to their loved ones at Christmas. I was no exception. Indeed I received my Kindle in November for my birthday. Today,I came away from the conference with mixed feelings about my newfound boy toy. As I have said in a previous post, I have been on a massive binge-read since November, but I now share the guilt that our beloved bookstores are seriously under threat.
I have not turned my back on P-books or tree books as they are now described, and have purchased real books since having my Kindle. I think readers, writers and booksellers have to think seriously about how we can all benefit from this change. Waterstones, WHSmiths and other retail outlets need to look at how they can    compete with Amazon. One delegate suggested bookstores need to remain in the High Street so readers can browse and handle the books physically and then decide whether to purchase the paper book or download to a flash drive in store. I for one would prefer to do that than online.
It has been suggested that there could be an alternate market for writers who may want to think about writing specifically for the e-book  market, with shorter 'Kindle-sized paragraphs, short stories, novelettes and perhaps serialized stories. Instead of waiting for the Tsunami, the booksellers should by all means embrace the change and go with it, but not without finding a way to preserve the printed page.