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Sunday, 7 March 2010

E-book Week

Read an E-book Week (7-13 March 2010) is upon us. When Val Stevenson of Nthposition and I began thinking of poetry e-books back in March 2003 (seven years ago now!), at the start of the Iraq war, they were basically PDFs you could download, share, swap, email, host and so forth - not the more elaborate platforms in place now, to use with tablet-shaped readers. I had thought e-books would catch on sooner than they in fact did. Their rapidity of circulation on the Internet, potential lack of expense, and democratic editing and publishing options, made them possibly a wildfire phenomenon - but much resisted their ubiquity, or the rise of the e-writer and e-reader as dominant in the marketplace.

Why? 1) resistance from the literary establishment, which remains the gatekeeping presence, determining editorial, review and marketing hegemony; 2) lack of grass-roots support for a real bottom-up revolution in the production of literary products; and 3) an uncertain technological interface, compounded by the unforeseen rise of the social networks in mid-decade, that to some degree made self-publishing less attractive than total and non-stop self-promotion, through feeds, blogs, tweets, and other updates. Each of us has been publishing ourselves, virtually, for the last five or so years.

Now, there are many options, such as eBooks.com, PoemHunter, or Bewrite Books, for instance. The Poetry Library has a good if small list. What's next?
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