What Whitney Houston’s Death Teaches Us About Publishing

I'm going to confess I'm a bit uncomfortably writing this story.  Whitney Houston's death was a troubling event, and among the love and sorrow I see over her passing are things that disturb me; snarky jokes, exploitation, disrespect for the dead.  So as I write this, if it's not the usual "Steve" please understand.

Also, admittedly, it's a bit personal; she's one of the distinct singers I grew up with.  It's a familiar voice, and it's gone, and even sadder as she had her personal demons to cope with.

Alan Cross notes an interesting phenomena in the wake of her death – fourteen books on her life appeared within seven hours of her death.  Fourteen.

Cross notes this is part of the larger trend of changes in media, and is much like what happened to music.  Those are very true words – publishing is being changed rapidly with technology, much as music was.  I recall how even a near-decade ago the rap scene was getting a lot of indie people with home studios who made a living with a small market – stuff that today comes cheaply or pre-installed.

Publishing of course is something computers have let us do for decades – it was just the publishing of a word processor and a printer.  Now technology is interlinked enough we can make books in what would seem to be an instant to an author of 20 or 30 years ago.

It's so fast that people can shovel out books the same day as an event.  I'm quite sure a lot of these are crap, but for all we know someone put out their near-finished personal work or some hidden gem of dedication.  Yeah, I doubt it, but . . . it's at least possible.

We're now in an age where book publishing and journalism/reporting (and yellow tabloidism) are on the same speed.

Think about that.  Me, I'm still a bit sad and I'm going to end this here.

– Steven Savage