by Tess Gerritsen
There were two conventions in town. Over at the Sands Hotel, the Adult Entertainment Expo was in full swing.
I, however, was at the other convention.
The Consumer Electronics Show, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, was THE place to check out the mind-boggling new gadgets about to come on the market in the next few months. From cars to cameras to TVs to gaming systems, this is the show where you’ll catch a glimpse of our electronic future.
Months ago, the Interead company (which makes the Cooler E-book reader) invited me to be a guest author at their CES booth. Although I knew that the show attendees would be overwhelmingly male, and probably not many would be familiar with my books, I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t want to check out the cool new gizmos on the horizon?
As predicted, the show was indeed overwhelmingly male. (It’s the first big event I’ve ever attended where there was no wait at the women’s restroom!) But, this being Vegas, buxom gals weren’t hard to find on the showroom floor.
“Booth bunnies” were everywhere. I sent my husband around the hall to take photos of them, and I have never seen him so eagerly take on an assignment. (For a glimpse of some more booth bunnies, hop on over to my own website for other photos.)
But dazzling electronics and chesty girls aside, CES was also where you could catch a glimpse of gizmos that will be part of the publishing future. At last year’s CES, or so I’m told, you could scarcely find an E-book reader on display. This year, there were at least a dozen booths, clustered in their very own section of the exhibit hall. Oddly enough, the world’s bestselling e-reader, Amazon’s Kindle, didn’t have a booth at CES. But check out the wide variety of other e-readers that will soon be available:
Here’s the Cooler E-reader, the product sold by Interead, my host at CES. It’s the lightest one on the market, easy to slip into a pocket or purse.
And where E-readers go, accessories are sure to follow. There were several booths devoted to just that specialty item:
Judging by all the E-reader products — and the interest in those products — a tipping point has clearly been reached. E-readers are the future, and whether you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing, we writers can’t afford to ignore the tidal wave that’s rushing toward us.
Nor can publishers. Because along with the E-reader revolution comes a publishing revolution. As a writer, you can now publish with any number of e-book sites, and sell your work directly to readers — without any publisher involved. It means there will be an overwhelming amount of content for consumers to choose from, much of it low-quality. E-book land is going to be a busy, anarchic universe with a dizzying array of great books sold along with bad books, and lord knows how it’s all going to shake out.
And hanging over us all will be the one thing that could doom us all. Piracy. Once books can be copied and disseminated for free, there will be no way to make a living in the writing profession. I fear that it’s only a matter of time before that happens.
And we will look back on this era as the last age of the professional writer.