Saturday, November 24, 2018

Sherlockiana and print

In 2018, how important is it to be "in print" as a Sherlockian?

Does ink on paper give us more validation than characters on a screen? Do a few hundred people reading our words in a published collection carry mean more than that same number reading those same words online?

To many, this isn't even a question. Publishing is just the way readers are found . . . or were found a few decades ago. But we not live in a world where massive amounts of Sherlockian writings are never seeing the printed page, yet find a readership larger than most Sherlockian newsletters and journals of the 1980s.

There is a certain love of the past about this hobby, one that treasures gasogenes, egg spoons, antimacassars, and the like, and that part of us will hold on to a few books long after book-lovers have become specialty hobbyists like those who brought back vinyl records as a think. But just as the lion's share of us eventually moved from physical letters sent through the post, will generational shift see us going more and more electronic for our reading?

Of course, when I say "reading," there is always the one-step-further: audio books. Have any friends that speak of "reading" a book, when actually they listened to it coming out of their headphones? I know I do. And getting your ideas out there by podcast is not just limited to audio. We might not have seen the Sherlockian vlogger who finally breaks through and shows us all that vlogging is an actual thing, but that person will come one day. (Please, please, please, tell me if I'm missing someone doing this on a regular basis.)

When one considers that an entire field of entertainment exists for people who watch other people play video games, I would bet there is, or will be, a need for video bloggers who read the old and rare works of Sherlockian scholarship and condense and review it for new Sherlockians. So much of it was printed in small print runs in the low hundreds in specific countries that those things are now great for collectors of rarities, but not available for most of the Sherlockian world. Which does encompass the world now, more than ever before. A perky, younger voice providing fresh eyes on our hobby's past would be a great addition to YouTube's billion channels.

Print is a classic medium, but it is no longer all we have. What was once something we struggled to accomplish, using mimeograph machines, vanity presses, and any other means available, is no longer our limit. There are so many other tools in the toolbox now for the celebration and exploration of Sherlock Holmes, and I'm looking forward to see how Sherlockians exploit them as we move into the future.

(Along with one day figuring out what to do with all this printed matter residue from another age.)

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