Thursday, January 28, 2010

Recollections of the iNewsletter™ and the future of other things.

Back in the olden days when Nancy Vandal had just begun it's long and ultimately fruitless rock and roll journey we went to some lengths to disguise our inherent lack of ability with an array of smoke and mirrors publicity guff. The prime mover in our arsenal was a mailout newsletter called The Vandal's Voice which in time mutated into a zine/comic and more recently a DVD. In it's earliest incarnation it was a hand written labour of love, photocopied into mass existence, slotted into a pile of DL envelopes which were then carefully addressed by hand whilst referencing a list of names neatly written by JJ LaMoore in a small exercise book. People could also order NV cassettes which we would duplicate ourselves and mail out as well. Check out this blast from the past as a reminder of a time gone by.

Oh - What we would have given for some kind of automated database and a streamlined system that would easily enable publishing articles, news, comics and tour dates instantly and cheaply to the entire world. And imagine if those same people could access your music from the comfort of their own home without getting off their arse. These were but crazy dreams back in 1994 when coal powered guitar amps and moshpits consisting entirely of dinosaurs were the norm.

Of course this magical utopia did arrive and it was called the internets. Unfortunately by the time myspace, mp3s, blogs and skat pornography became common place, poor old NV had shot their audio wad and were settling into semi retirement.

These days I've taken a pretty keen interest in the self publishing caper. I've got a graphic novel well underway, plans for a kids book collaboration with my sis and a bunch of comic ideas in various forms. I've been investigating a stack of self publishing options over the past year. Printing and distributing your own book is pretty pricey as you'd expect. The numerous "print on demand" services are pretty cool in terms of taking away upfront publishing costs but the end price for the consumer is too expensive even with zero margin for the creator. Living in the relative isolation of Australia doesn't help either - especially for comic book creation.

So it is with considerable interest I am monitoring the fate of the new Apple doohicky and more importantly the wider implications for digital publishing. If it's introduction can do for books, comics and magazines what the ipod did for music I'll be a very happy camper - and this time i can get in on the ground floor!

As usual with a new Apple product there's a lot of overheating nerds right now - and a higher than usual volume of initial scepticism regarding the product. I assume the backlash [prelash?] is boosted by Apple's higher profile these days [Try defending a one button mouse in 96 - Old school Mac Massive represent!] and their infuriatingly smug marketing chops. There's the usual moaning about the iPad's specs but I reckon the various "but it doesn't do this" or "such and such does the same thing cheaper" complaints are as relevant as similar grievances with the extraordinarily unpopular iPods and iPhones in terms of it's success.

Ultimately it all will come down to whether buying and reading stuff on a tablet becomes as desirable to punters as listening to mp3s on a portable player. And it's this outcome as opposed to the success or failure of a specific device that I'm hoping for.

Though I have a pretty big box of envelopes on standby just in case.

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