Have you heard? Astronomers have discovered “Earth 2,” a possibly life-supporting planet 40 light years away. While this is surely a watershed moment in science, I’m more concerned with 2009’s most pressing question – Will it save publishing? The good news is yes, it will. Here’s how:
- Everyone will need to buy whole new libraries – Now that we have a second Earth, all previous published references to Earth 1 should be updated to clear any confusion. Expect Pearl S. Buck to get a boost in sales with everyone buying another copy of The Good Earth (1, not the New One).
- Science Fiction Will Become Invalidated, But That’s Okay – All “speculative fiction,” regardless of its content, is of course obsolete. This will be a short-term blow to a thriving segment of publishing, but a long-term gain. Readers will want to know, What’s life like on Earth 2? Is it balmy? Do they feel slighted for being number 2? Science fiction writers are best equipped to answer these questions. That is, until…
- Science Writing Explodes – Once we send a NASA probe or two on a fact-finding mission, scientists will be fielding multimillion dollar advances to translate their findings into accessible books for the masses. It’s going to be a great decade for the Malcolm Gladwells of MIT.
- No Telescopes, Words Will Do – Supposedly the new planet can be viewed with a 16″ telescope, which many amateur astronomers can acquire. You may think this will lead to a rush on such telescopes; you’re wrong. People will prefer instead to read short descriptions of what they could be seeing. Such descriptions will be penned by some of our greatest novelists and sold as individual ebooks.
- A New Kind of Beach Read – It’s only a matter of time before we send astronauts to explore this new territory. Then comes the space tourists. The journey will probably be boring as hell. That’s where the beach reads come in.
- Earth 2’s Assuredly Terrifying Inhabitants Constitute a Whole New Audience – And they’ll probably love Stephanie Meyer, since everyone else does too. Think of it as 6 billion new readers!
- People Will Buy More Hardcovers – They just will, okay?
I for one am very excited.