Monday, July 5, 2010

Celebrating Independence Day

Yesterday was the Fourth of July and I am reminded of the progress made in book publishing before and since the United States gained its independence in 1776. That seems so long ago, but there were already printing presses, books, and newspapers. According to, America's first continuously-published newspaper, the Boston News-Letter published its first issue on April 24, 1704.

The United States is a youngster compared to Asian and European countries. I have read some of the first novels published in America. James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans, written in 1826, is on my iPhone eReader as I write this. I've read it several times and still enjoy it.

According The Norton Anthology of American Literature, published in 2007 and edited by Nina Baym, the first American novel is William Hill Brown’s The Power of Sympathy published in 1789.

Think about all the great American novelists. I've read everything written by James Michener, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Sinclair Lewis, and many others. James Michener lived in Austin for a time and my father was his barber during that time. Michener is buried in the same cemetary as my father. In 1993, The Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas was created with a $20 million donation from the author.

John Steinbeck also has an Austin connection. There is a collection of his papers and edited manuscripts at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas in Austin.

Today, technology provides a way for all of us to publish a book. I'm using CreateSpace's professional approach for Where Love Once Lived and paying extra to make my book look more like one published by the big publishing houses. However, both CreateSpace and Lulu let you create a book at little cost. You can design your own cover using software tools they provide and you can lay out your own pages and print your book for less than ten bucks. With print on demand, authors can order only the books needed. The cost doesn't change if you order one book or thousands.

We've come a long way America.

No comments:

Post a Comment