Monday, February 25, 2013

Ebooks and how Technology Changes Us


 The cover of my ebook Milk and Water, about Montreal in 1927, an era when City Hall was beset by scandals and corruption.....Helloooooo.

Technology changes us, but in ways we can't usually predict.

Today,  CBC news online has an article about e-books and how they are going to change the world of publishing.

Well, duh.

Many moons ago, when I had babies to care for  and I spent the day watching CNN, a brand new 24 hour news station, that station carried a story about a 'baby in a well' which became this HUGE out of control story, so I realized right at that moment that all-day news was going to change the news media and by extension how we viewed the world and by extension THE WORLD.

Later, I mentioned this to my cousin, who actually worked at CNN and she said, "Yes, people have told me that."

So the same goes for e-books. Of course.

This CBC article Social reading: the next phase of the e-book revolution quotes a Montreal e-book pioneer Hugh McGuire (Pressbooks, Libravox)who has written A Futurist's Manifesto. He says that in the future many  books will only be published in ebook format.

He doesn't talk about how the authors of these books might be paid for their work.

A friend of mine, a successful author, tells me that she is happy she got in under the wire before this e-publishing revolution. With all these digital versions of her textbooks, she says, her future work will just be stolen by students and she'll make no profits.

It sounds like ebooks in themselves will become PR tools, or something. They are already being pitched as such.

I've just published a series of e-books about the 1910 era, for my own pleasure as it were, Threshold Girl, Diary of a Confirmed Spinster and Milk and Water.

I doubt I will make any money. My digital books are about Canadian social history, so they should be of interest to teachers...or their students.

And now I'm working on a book (or play, I dunno) about the 1917 Conscription Crisis and its relation to the our 'reform-minded' Suffragists, a little known connection. It's called Sister Salvation and is the follow up to Threshold Girl and Diary of a Confirmed Spinster.

To prove McGuire's point about ubiquitous access to books, I easily tracked down an obscure 1915 novel called A Soul on Fire, that I am using for background. (I would never have learned about it without the web, but there exists a hard copy at McGill.)

A Soul on Fire was written by a Frances Fenwick-Williams, a woman who was on the Executive of the short-lived Montreal Suffrage Association, an organization I have been deconstructing on this blog.

She wrote A Soul on Fire while on the Executive and it is clear she uses her fellows as templates for her characters.

Like many of the women leading the Suffrage Movement in Montreal, Mrs. Fenwick-Williams was interested in Social Reform, but not to such an extent as her more zealous fellow board members, many of whom were Protestant Evangelicals and  adherents of the rather icky Purity Movement.

Fenick-Williams was a clever gal, but she didn't see a contradiction in the fact that these Reformer-Suffragists thought it fine that Middle Class Women should impose their values on the Poor, but then hated the fact than Men imposed their values on Women.

In her novel she pokes fun at Sir Andrew McPhail, a highly-respected anti-suffragist. She creates an erudite male character who has written a book called "Women Explained." What a great title!

She was a clever woman, this Fenwick-Williams. I am only half-way through her novel because it begins as a satire and then evolves into a goth mystery of sorts, and I'm getting confused -and bored- and I have a Kindle and can stop and start all kinds of books at will, without getting through any of them. (Ebooks have already changed the way I read, that's for sure. They've given me a kind of attention deficit disorder.)

 Here's a bit from the Fenwick Williams book, a suffrage debate at a high class dinner.