FREEDOM FROM THE PRESS (ESTABLISHMENT)

Or for that matter, let's just say freedom of choice. I remember a day back in the late 90s when I was sitting in my office and an e-mail appeared from Amazon inviting me to read a Stephen King book electronically FOR FREE. I cancelled my lunch plans and read a big chunk of his book. While the story didn't stick in my memory (nothing against Mr. King because he's written some of my favorite books) the experience of enjoying an e-book absolutely stuck with me.

I love books. Once I had a long-term relationship with a guy that lasted as long as it did through our mutual love of wandering used bookstores and dragging home armloads of treasures to fill our old book-smelling apartment.

But I am unapologetic in my love of e-books. I don't discriminate. If it's a good story, I want it. If I can bring an entire library on the train with me and customize the backlighting and font with a tap of a finger? I'm a happy commuter.

So upon reflection, like a growing number of the population I was an indie reader years before I owned an e-reading device. I sought out books that publishers had abandoned and long since refused another printing. Discovering a new author is a particularly satisfying adventure for me.

No one has been as pleased as I to see the old Publishing Establishment paradigm undergo sweeping changes. The big pubs have sounded alarms that authors and readers alike will suffer if they keep their status quo and return to business as usual. Well I believe that their business model was nothing short of censorship. There. I said it.

Let me offer an example:

During those same magical 90s I followed the internet to music that I'd never heard before. I got excited! I got my groove on to styles of music that were currently hot in Iceland. I was shakin' my thang to songs from twenty years ago that I'd never heard by bands that I knew. Then I got mad. What the hell! I'd been forced to hear only the songs on my radio's official playlist since my childhood. I'd only been able to buy songs that a band's record label allowed on an album. I was angry at being robbed of the entire universe of music by record label and radio station management.

As a child growing up listening to WLS in Chicago, I didn't know there could ever be another option beyond listening to a never-ending rotation of "You Light Up My Life" by Debbie Boone and "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" by Leo Sayer. But with the advent of electronic music delivery we've been liberated.

Ditto with the book publishing powers that were. Now independent publishing frees us to seek out books much the same way I always have in musty old bookstores--but with a much bigger reach. And I say bring it on!

I am glad to see this brave new world where I can cram anything I want into my ears or brain without it first having to be found to have merit by a record label, radio station or book publisher.

The digital age has thrown off our shackles. I've tasted freedom and I'm not scared for the old way of doing things. I'm a writer and I'm a reader and I'm hungry.

Ivy

Photo by Monika Pedersen

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