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Saturday, 26 February 2011

A man's gotta' do what E's gotta' do

I this morning contributed to an interesting thread on the Western Pulps Forum, which is a lively forum in which all things western are discussed.  Any western fan will benefit from joining - My post ended with the following -

"The old paperbacks will always be there and thank the Lord for that. I love trawling through the markets and secondhand book shops. But concentrating solely on the older stuff is not going to help the genre to move forward into the new age. Love it or loathe it, we all need to get on pushing the eBooks and encouraging western readers to buy eBooks, by pointing out how much western stuff is out there. In a few short years, I believe, very few westerns will be published physically - depressing maybe, but there you have it."

I also posted - "Maybe I'm too optimistic but I don't see it as a given that western fiction will never be as popular as it once was. I think it's relative since there are not as many people reading as there once were, but I still think the western will remain popular. These days it's much more transmedia - comic books, computer games, movies as well as the books themselves. Look at the success of computer games, Gun and Red Dead Redemption, and of course that movie, True Grit. Also Jonah Hex continues to be a great comic and the UK's Judge Dredd is always doing western-alike stories set in the comic's own wild west, The Cursed Earth."

Remember him - he's back on the eBook cutting edge!
Which leads me to eBooks once again - I know a lot of traditional readers don't like the electronic devices and I can understand this reticence  - I mean traditional books are a thing of beauty and probably the best designed reading device there is, but at the same time we should take a lesson from those who refused to adapt MP3 - if we want our western genre to survive and prosper, we need to make sure it is available to new readers, those who have never read a western in their life. And the way to do that is to have as many western as possible available on eBook - both older republished stuff and brand new work. It makes sense really, this is a new world - imagine some thirteen year old kid is playing the latest violent computer game set in the wildest of wild wests, the game excites him. So he decides to check out some western fiction or a movie, and with the click of a button he can download both of these to whatever device is the current latest thing.

More bang for your buck

The WIKI definition of western fiction - "Western fiction is a genre of literature set in the American Old West frontier (usually anywhere west of the Mississippi River) and typically set during the late nineteenth century. Well-known writers of Western fiction include Zane Grey from the early 1900s and Louis L'Amour from the mid 20th century. The genre peaked around the early 1960s, largely due to the popularity of televised Westerns such as Bonanza. Readership began to drop off in the mid- to late 1970s and has reached a new low in the 2000s. Most bookstores, outside of a few western states, only carry a small number of Western fiction books."

 I can't argue with that but what the WIKI fails to mention is that there has been a small spike in sales of western fiction over the last five years - myself I firmly believe this is due to the amount of passionate western related stuff on the Internet.

For it's survival the western must embrace the world of the eBook. But just sticking them up on Amazon or any of the other retail site, and hoping for the best is not going to do the trick. Which is why I believe the blogosphere is important - western writers are first and foremost, western fans and we need to show this by continuing to produce interesting western based content on the web, we need to continue to discover new angles for bringing new interest into the genre.

We need to make the western irresistible, cool and trendy - for then and only then will the sun rise in the west.

And so another Wild West eMonday is on the horizon and this time I hope to have a full weekend of posts by various luminaries of the western genre.So anyone reading this who is involved in any way in the western genre, then contact me and let me know you want to take part. And western fans, and a great many visit The Archive daily, let us know what kind of western features would make for an entertaining weekend and provoke you to buy a new western eBook.

....go on, a man's gotta' do what E's gotta' do.....

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