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Sunday, 11 November 2012

Print and Prejudice

Jeff Noon's first novel, Vurt, won the Arthur C Clarke award in 1994. Subsequent books include the critically acclaimed novels Pollen and Falling Out of Cars. Vurt is a well known and much respected author.

 Those faFor his latest novel, Chanell Sk1n he decided to go it alone and self publish digitally. Noon says this gives him more freedom in his writing, and more connection to his fans, but the author found that he couldn't get any mainstream press interest in the book which prompted a recent article in The Guardian that pointed out that the book world still retains a base prejudice against digital, and especially digital-only works.

"A print publication remains the basic requirement for newspaper reviews, journals and major prize entries, despite the vast range of work available online and in eBooks. The whiff of vanity publishing still clings to independent publishing and the digital-only text. In the Victorian era, book-first works weren't considered serious: you were a "proper writer" if your work first received serial publication in a newspaper or magazine. That was the mark of editorial quality. As books became both more widely affordable and better produced, the focus shifted to hardbacks and paperbacks – and has remained there. Even paperbacks are often turned down for review: much hardback publication is still essentially in order to receive media notice to publicise the cheaper edition."

Newspapers and magazines are finding times tough and many readers are saying that they are no longer relevant in this digital world, when information and news can be delivered at a touch of a button. And maybe these people have a point and if print reviewers are worried about the future then maybe they should get with the program and start covering digital content.

It is the same with literary prizes where self published digital works don't get a look in, leading many to claim that literary awards are old fashioned, and only represent a limited section of the book world.

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