Friday, July 15, 2011

E-books very popular with the dead

The Tattered Cover has ordered 15 copies of Good Cop, Dead Cop to be sold at their three metro locations: Colfax, downtown Denver and Highlands Ranch. Obviously I’m excited at the thought of GCDC available at a real book store. Update: I just delivered the books today, July 15.

I should explain that the TC has a Rocky Mountain Authors Program where they highlight books by local authors, and since I live in Denver and the book is set in Denver, I thought I’d qualify for the program and so I dropped off a copy of the book for review. I also set a scene in the downtown Tattered Cover, which wasn’t just a clever ploy to get the TC to stock the book. It just seemed natural to set a scene at the TC, especially when I thought that one of the more popular pastimes for the dead would be reading.

Think about it: let’s say you’ve been dead since the Spanish Inquisition, trying to follow world events and understand the technology that now allows you to access the world wide web through the AfterNet. You’ve witnessed centuries of wars, famines, inventions, celebrations, births and deaths, but always without fully understanding the whys and wherefores of history.

You tried to read books but being disembodied, you were always looking over the shoulder of a living person, trying to read at their speed and at the whim of their tastes. Just think how annoying it would be if your surrogate reader had started reading A Study in Scarlet in 1887 but never finished it because they didn’t like detective stories. Or try reading Joyce’s Ulysses over someone’s shoulder.

After the discovery of the afterlife and the creation of the AfterNet, I think one of the fastest growing markets would be e-books, which the dead could read online. Admittedly one of the hiccoughs is the fact that just after the discovery, the dead have little purchasing power. It would take a while before they start accumulating enough wealth to buy e-books.

So the rationale I had for Munroe spending so much time at the Tattered Cover was that the bookstore was making reading material available to the disembodied without cost.

Here’s a scenario I imagined, which unfortunately no longer seems valid in these tough economic times: Back in the day, a down on their luck literate person could always find a job at the TC (or at least that’s what I always thought). So maybe a living person was employed to do nothing but page through the newspaper and magazines for the benefit of the disembodied. Or a novel would be left out and the pages turned every hour. And certainly an AfterNet terminal is available in the store.

As the disembodied begin to accumulate wealth, they’ll start buying e-books, which I think will make that market mature faster in my fictional world than it has in the real world. And I think bookstores like the Tattered Cover or Murder by the Book in Denver or Poor Richard’s in Colorado Springs will attract the disembodied, where the bookstore can both provide a way to buy the and a place to read.

After all, my fictional world has been criticized as being pretty bleak, with it’s basic premise of an afterlife with no heaven. But some people would consider spending your afterlife in a cozy bookstore pretty close to heaven.

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