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On the radio this morning, I heard the announcement that all 60 years of Playboy are being released in electronic form. What was the first thing that crossed my mind (well, maybe the second thing)?

What does this mean to those of us who are making a go of selling the written word?

If you write a book, you’re probably worried about competing with the current crop of latest releases. You are competing with them. That’s a massive, overwhelming task in itself. But, now you’re also competing with all the hundreds of thousands of beautifully written books of history.

I still remember how shocked I was when I stumbled across an archive of ebooks and realized a person could have a full and satisfying literary experience without ever spending a nickel on a book. Downloading books with copyright protection is illegal, but there are many people who don’t care. And, if you want to obey the law and respect the rights of writers, you can still go to Gutenberg. Believe me, there are thousands and thousands of great books there…you’ll never get to them all, even of you read twelve hours a day for the rest of your life.

Beyond giving up, what do we writers do?

People will always have a craving for the fresh and the new.  Fine, write something topical.

Beyond that?

The competition is fierce and the most common outcome is obscurity and despair. The competition is brutal.

You’d better make sure your book is as good as it can be.

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