To Read A Book Or To Network Screen? Will that be the question?

I bumbled into a gem of a blog tonight. While moderating my own personal blog, I accidentally clicked on the “Next Blog” button. Just like Alice, I fell into a fantastic world, one just right for book lovers: www.bookfutures.com.

The site is a manifesto on the future of books. Affiliated with If:book London, the site’s director, Chris Meade, states that Bookfutures.com is “a think and do tank exploring the future of the book as our culture moves from printed page to networked screen, and the potential of new media for creative readers and writers.”

Though I shudder at the thought of our culture as moving from printed page, the website’s positive energy drew me in. A piece in particular is taken from the introduction of Bob Stein’s Taxonomy of Social Reading. Bob’s predictions the about social potential of collaborative reading are persuasive and intriguing. To him the social aspects of Kindles and Blackberries are just the beginning. He describes experiments with “networked books” as having exciting social potential.

Following this entry is a lyrical, reflective letter written to the Chris Meade from the poet David Hart. The poet’s words reminded me again of why I love books and why they will persevere. I especially liked when he reflects that his house, which has become a small library, will be a curious inheritance for his son because of the story his books will tell.

What is the future of books? If nothing else, Bookfutures.com is a well researched source from which to consider the question.

Facebook Your Way to Publishing Your Book

Now that my novel is so close to completion, I’m starting the search for publishers. It’s only been about four years since I last looked around, yet this is a much more interesting world.  In some ways it’s a paradox in that agents and small presses seem more plentiful and more accessible while the amount of work getting published seems to have shrunk.  I’ve decided that all this change calls for smarter searching and more informed pitches.  This time, I’m augmenting all the traditional methods of looking for agents and presses with Facebook.

Believe it or not, Facebook can be used for better voyeuristic endeavors than looking at the vacation pics from tangential acquaintances.  Here’s an example of what I did on my first night of searching.  I found a Literary Agent who is accepting friends on Facebook.  I liked her and immediately saw a status update about a writers’ conference she was about to attend.

Then I went on a like frenzy. I clicked on all the links in her Favorite Pages, which contains a couple dozen independent presses.  Some of these presses I had never heard of.  When I went on their Facebook pages and clicked on their websites, I not only learned more about them, but I found additional links to further resources. I liked several places that have published work within my genre and learned tidbits about them from their updates and posts.  This knowledge can potentially help me write better, more specific query letters.

It is a whole new world of virtual networking.  Right now, I’m just browsing, but it is a search vehicle with unique potential.  Besides it’s much more interesting to see Facebook Updates about writing opportunities than to read that my former grade school classmate is drinking beer and bowling tonight.