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Kathryn Spira

Publishing in the Digital Age

When I first started writing my column in the spring of 1995 I composed on a word processor (remember those?) and faxed the copy to the newspaper where they had to re-type it into the computer at the newspaper. Years later, I typed it into a word processing program on a computer, copy and pasted it into an email, which is essentially how I still do it, but by dictation to someone else who can type for me. Herman is usually "that someone."

Herman is a writer who has the polar opposite writing style from me. He writes fiction, mysteries, fantasies and poetry. I am essentially a non-fiction, autobiographical entertainment columnist. I try use humor and real-life situations to comment on my life and society in general.

Whereas Herman has embraced the digital age in reading e-books with a Kindle reader, I still prefer hard copy books that can be held or placed in a bookstand. I remember several years ago when my brother-in-law Mitchell first got a Kindle e-book reader, Herman was fascinated by it and soon got one of his own.

I, however, still enjoy the look and feel of paper and smell of ink in hard copy, although I realize digital e-books are becoming more popular. Kindle reading programs can hold thousands of books with built-in dictionary and have the ability to download a book in seconds. (Talk about instant gratification!)

There are other e-book readers, but I've heard most about Kindles and they seem pretty popular. They've also started a bit of a publishing revolution in that someone can now upload a manuscripts to Amazon or other digital publishing sites and once accepted (no, they won't just publish anything!) a manuscript can be available for purchase, download and reading in a matter of hours instead of months. And the cost can be zero, other than the process of writing itself. (When Walter Winchell asked Red Smith if writing a column wasn't a chore, Smith famously quipped, "No, you simply sit down at a typewriter, open your veins and bleed.")

Herman (aka Richard Nilsen, as many of my loyal readers know) and his friend Shawn Tomlinson have worked on some manuscripts together. Shawn's biography (edited by Herman) of Broadalbin author Robert W. Chambers is entitled "Maker of Moons: Author of The King in Yellow Unmasked." (Chamber's writings have influenced writers as famous as Stephen King.) Shawn also has written several e-books on photography.

Richard's Adirondack mystery "An Old Fashioned Shooting" was edited and designed by Shawn. Both books are available for Kindle download on at much less cost than hard copies would be, although they both hope to have hard copies available in the future.

I include images of the front covers of these two books and hope you will check them out. You can even preview a few pages of the books on Amazon to see if you like them before purchasing. It's all part of the digital revolution.


About Kathryn Spira

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland, OH who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County, New York. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site