Solving for X
In case you hadn’t heard, things are changing. Now, I’m not trying to push some tired campaign-sticker rhetoric here, nor am I so naive as to believe that the future isn’t just the far end of the same stick we were holding yesterday. The changes to which I’m referring will be obvious to anyone who casts a cursory glance at publishing-industry headlines (“The Changing Economics of E-books” on page 17 is a darn good example). But I think it’s worth pointing out that writers are in a unique position to respond to, participate in, grudgingly accept, or flat-out ignore these technological advances that are shaping the digital-media marketplace. Every consumer has those options too, of course, but as writers our decisions affect more than just the amount of money left over in our pockets. When you get right down to it, we write the words at the beginning of the equation that big companies like Apple, Amazon, and others are trying to solve: how to get those words (among other things) in front of as many people as possible.
But here’s where it gets interesting: Those big companies are not alone. Joining Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and the others are publishers like FSG’s Jonathan Galassi, who sees to it that the work of prizewinning poet C. K. Williams (page 28) has a home in print—nice paper between cardboard covers, thank you very much. And indie innovators like Elijah Jenkins, whose Flatmancrooked is launching the Zero Emission Book Project along with the fiction debut of the tattooed gentleman on the cover, James Kaelan (page 36). And Justin Runge, whose Blue Hour Press (page 18) publishes digital chapbooks that retain the beauty and tradition of print. And, most important, creative writers like Scott Hartman (page 25), the literary artist at the other end of the supply chain who writes, “I’ve never found an art form that touches me—or that I can touch people with—more powerfully than the written word.” Read that sentence using whatever device you want; it remains the most important element of the equation.
In the coming months we’ll be announcing some new initiatives designed to offer our words in whatever format readers prefer to read them. A new digital edition is one (visit www.pw.org/magazine for more information); our Kindle edition is another. These and other exciting developments are on the way, and they are all in service of what’s most important: you, the poets and the writers.