Monday, September 25, 2006

Of long tails and short days

A month into the new semester, it's become apparent that Things Must Change. In the mornings, by the time we get The Kid out the door and on the schoolbus, I have little or no time left in which to write; in the evenings, by the time I get everything else that must be done buttoned up for the day, I have no energy left for the writing. A dozen or more perfectly good blog topics have gone unused lately as the time to write about them simply has not existed, and my intent to atone for these omissions by writing one big article each weekend has gone straight to the place where things paved with good intentions usually go.

For example, this weekend, I really intended to do a serious think-piece exploring "the long tail" and it's impact on working writers.

But instead I spent Sunday afternoon exploring the kitchen sink plumbing and discovering that if enough plastic-coated twisty-ties find their way down the drain, in time they form a tangled mass down in the "S" trap that no amount of Drano or snaking will dislodge, and getting the sink usuable again then becomes a matter for pipe wrenches, long-handled needle-nose pliers, and much bashing of knuckles and swearing.

As for the "long tail" business: this started out as a reaction to a Wall Street Journal article. (Yes, we subscribe to the WSJ.) The gist of it is that in the Internet age, no book ever really becomes unavailable; it just becomes a question of how far you're willing to go to find it. For example, old friend Anton Rang recently sent me this photo, which he snapped in a bookstore in Surabaya.

That's Surabaya. Island of Java, east of Krakatoa, Indonesia. If you're on a broadband connection you might want to zoom in and look at some of the other books on the shelves next to that pretty young lady, and then let's all hold hands together and sing: "It's a small world after all..."

The long tail is also the driving force behind something else that a few of you have noticed already: my wife's new business, K & B Booksellers. But I've run out of time for further writing this morning, and haven't even gotten started on the subject of this poor fellow down in Brazil who sent me an email asking when I'm going to write my next Robot City novel, and the challenge of letting a fan down gently when you speak English and he speaks Portugese.