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.