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Great books are hard to find on today’s shelves

In Business, Children and Family, Economy, Education, Entertainment, Literature, Local News, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Technology on March 20, 2013 at 2:47 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

"Flights of Fiction" is an anthology of stories set in southwest Ohio by local authors from the Western Ohio Writers Association. It will hit shelves in mid-April 2013 and features local talent and production.

“Flights of Fiction” is an anthology by local authors will hit shelves in mid-April 2013.

Books are incredible things. They can make you laugh and cry. They can whisk you off to faraway places with strange sounding names and introduce you to characters and worlds that only exist in the mind’s eye.

This month, Disney released the film version of Oz, The Great and Powerful, a prequel story to the more familiar tale of Dorothy Gale’s trip down the Yellow Brick Road. Author L. Frank Baum wrote his 14 originally published Oz books between 1900 and 1920 and each one carried us over the rainbow to a world of magic and adventure.

Of course, it was movie magic that brought the Land of Oz to life on more than one occasion. Even with all of the high-tech special effects and brilliant colors, nothing can replace the written versions of these timeless classics.

Books have a way of exciting the mind and launching the imagination of children and adults alike. Sadly, instead of giving us amazing tales of adventure, modern publishing has turned its attention more towards anything that fits a hot-selling genre rather than keeping an eye out for the next Sherlock Holmes.

When Baum and his contemporaries like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were writing their books, publishers were looking for great writing and engaging stories. Of course they wanted to make money, but they were less likely to sacrifice quality in favor of selling solely for the lowest common denominator. They knew that the best way to grow revenue was to publish a great book.

It seems that today’s publishers are looking, not so much for good literature, but sole marketability. Publishing companies are focusing on the bottom line with through a bit of astigmatism.

People often forget that the business of publishing fiction is part of the entertainment industry and is driven by the buying public. As major publishers shrink in size and revenue, they continue to blame the Internet and self-publishing authors rather than looking in a mirror to realize they’ve done this to themselves.

Occasionally, a publisher will take a chance on a unique story which then turns into a runaway success. The best examples are more recent series books like Harry Potter, Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey. But once those titles charge up the audience, the publishers start releasing knock-offs or genre-trapped titles based on similar characters and situations to pacify the desire for more of the same.

The problem comes when that’s all they put out, rather than trying to take advantage of a good book-buying market and release something different. All they’re publishing for is cash flow at that point, landing much better manuscripts in the trash bin.

Sadly, there’s really no way to change this trend as long as the public continues to follow hype instead of looking for quality. Until consumers demand better material to read, the status quo will remain low cost, high volume, all buildup and no substance.

So if readers don’t find what they want at the big-box bookstores, they should turn their attention to local authors. After all, everyone talks about buying local and here’s just another way to do that. Thanks to high-quality electronic and self-publishing options, some great local authors are making their work available on a regular basis.

A few minutes in a neighborhood bookstore, even used book shops like Xenia’s, “Blue Jacket Books,” on S. Detroit St., can turn up a treasure trove of locally produced work. From memoires to science fiction local authors have some great work out there to satisfy the hunger of the voracious reader.

Like with larger outlets, local authors can spin some stinkers too, but they often cost less and, even if the book isn’t that great, you’ve helped support the community. Local authors work and live in your community and often hold signings and attend area writing groups. Keep your eyes open. There might just be another L. Frank Baum out there somewhere, yet undiscovered by the big guys. So go hit the local bookstore and remember reading is fundamental.

LOOKING FOR A GREAT BOOK? HERE ARE OUR RECOMMENDATIONS! 

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