Friday, September 5, 2008

Little Cat Feet

Gutenberg Memorial Sculpture, Berlin - photo from Wikipedia


By Pat Browning

Change, like Sandburg’s fog, comes in on little cat feet.

Modern publishing started with Gutenberg. Almost 600 years later came offset printing, and then print-on-demand. Mercy, where will it end?

The signs are that there is no end, thanks to the Internet, but you can follow the changes like an Indian looking for broken twigs and crushed leaves on a forest trail.

Here’s a big broken twig for you, snapped on TV during the Democrat convention in Denver. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada said, “The population center in this country has come west. It’s now west of the Mississippi.”

That’s good news for writers and fans of the western regional mystery. Tony Hillerman in New Mexico, J.A. Jance in Seattle, Joseph Wambaugh in Los Angeles, are the contemporary pioneers. Robert Fate, with his Baby Shark series set in Texas and Oklahoma, and Craig Johnson, with his Walt Longmire series set in Wyoming, are coming on strong.

Got me to thinking about the books I read during the past couple of weeks, all set in the West.

*BLOOD MEMORY by Margaret Coel, set in Colorado, a tale of skullduggery and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians. This is a standalone. Her Wind River mystery series is set among the Arapahos of the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.
*SUMMER OF THE BIG BACHI by Naomi Hirahara, first of a series featuring a Japanese gardener in Southern California.
*KINDRED SPIRITS by Marilyn Meredith, latest in her Deputy Tempe Crabtree series set in the foothills of Central California.
*LOCATION LOCATION, latest in Kit Sloane’s Margot and Max series. Technically speaking, Margot and Max are in Panama for this one, but only to make a movie. Sloane may eventually do for the Hollywood movie industry what Wambaugh did for the LAPD.

Another twig snapped, this one on a different front, but also from coverage of the Democrat convention. Frank Rich, a New York Times columnist, writes in an Op-Ed piece:

“We, too, are made anxious and fearful by hard economic times and the prospect of wrenching change. YouTube, the medium that has transformed our culture and politics, didn’t exist four years ago. Four years from now, it’s entirely possible that some, even many, of the newspapers and magazines covering this campaign won’t exist in their current form, if they exist at all. The Big Three network evening newscasts, and network news divisions as we now know them, may also be extinct by then. … The Web, in its infinite iterations, is eroding all 20th-century media.”

Speaking of the Internet, here’s something posted to DorothyL by Carola Dunn, an author with a long list of Daisy Dalrymple mysteries to her credit. I repeat it here with her permission:

“All my regencies (previously published on paper) except a few novellas are available as e-books. I can’t say I’m making a fortune but it’s a very nice bit of change. Two Daisy short stories are available free online. I understand St. Martin’s is trying to figure out the best way to go electronic with their backlists, so one of these days, with any luck, all Daisy will be out there.”

Oh, but you ain’t heard nuthin’ yet.

Here’s a sci-fi novel with a difference. Try wrapping your mind around a Quillr, on Nicola Furlong’s page at

The teaser (abbreviated):

“John the Apostle is a reclusive and temperamental rock star struggling to balance the pressure of celebrity with the burden of protecting an astounding secret. His charisma and stigmata attract global attention and curiosity yet he desperately wants to be left alone with his family.

“But when three unwelcome strangers infiltrate his secluded west-coast compound, all hell breaks loose… Scroll down and click the video… but beware… a Quillr is NOT a book. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED”

So what is a Quillr?

Quoting : “Quillr is the exciting new platform for multimedia storytelling combining text, audio and video. Part movie, part soundtrack, part graphic novel; with Quillrs, stories will no longer be read ... they'll be experienced.”

Gutenberg would be dumbfounded. Then again, maybe not.


Terrie Farley Moran said...

Hi Pat,

What a fascinating post! I am going to link it from Women of Mystery.

Quillr? Who knew?


Pat Browning said...

Boggles the mind, eh, Terrie? In spite of the turmoil, it's an interesting time to be in publishing.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Yes, very interesting post, Pat. Guess I'd better check out Quillr.


Pat Browning said...

I got this note from Nicola Furlong:

"It's been a very interesting and educational experience. We're in the midst
of rejigging the Quillr, condensing and adding enhancements, based on
customer comments. I'll let you know when the new site is up in a few weeks."

Stay tuned!
Pat B.

Beth Terrell said...

Hm. I will definitely check out the Quillr. I hadn't heard of it before.

Linda McLaughlin said...

I'll be interested in seeing the new version. I have to wonder how expensive a Quillr is to produce. There's little enough profit in books.