Thursday, July 01, 2010

But...But...That Will Never Work!

By Paula Matter

A week or so ago, as I wasted spent time on Twitter, I came across an interesting discussion about how publishing is dying.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I didn’t read all of the tweets, and I didn’t join in on the discussion. But I have been thinking about it since. How could I not? As some of you know, I’m at the querying stage. I have a vested interest in what (and how) the publishing industry is doing.

In particular, the following tweet caught my eye because of its simple, smart, and significant message:

Try to remember that, for the whole book community, change doesn't equal death. Just a time for innovation and opportunity!
- Colleen Lindsay, Literary agent, 2010

Cool, huh? It reminded of the times I’ve heard co-workers lament, “But, we’ve always done it this way!” whenever a new boss came onboard. Don’t get me wrong--I’ve sometimes had that thought, but don't (ahem, usually) verbalize it. I tend to wait and see how the new situations plays out. Then, as some of my former bosses could attest, I’ll speak up if it turns out they are doing it the wrong way. (grin)

Change can be good. It’s also inevitable. Hell, we (most of us) are writers. We anticipate change. Tell me, how many times has your first draft been good enough? Just rolled right off the printer or out of the hard drive ready to submit? There are always changes to make.

As some of you know, I’m not a real serious person. Sure, I take some things seriously, but I can normally be counted on to find the humor in situations. I spent a few fun hours looking up predictions which were later proven wrong. Y’know, like the one going around now about the death of publishing. Wait, maybe this change will be better: The Death of Publishing. Cue menacing music. Dum da da dum. (Or whatever it would be).

So, for your entertainment, I supply the following. You’re welcome.

It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.
- Robert Goddard (1882-1945)

They will never try to steal the phonograph because it has no commercial value.
- Thomas Edison (1847-1931). (He later revised that opinion.)

This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a practical form of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.
- Western Union internal memo, 1878

[Television] won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.
- Darryl F. Zanuck, head of 20th Century-Fox, 1946

Radio has no future.
- Lord Kelvin (1824-1907), British mathematician and physicist, ca. 1897

Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.
- Dr. Dionysus Lardner (1793-1859), Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy at University College, London.

The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad.
- Advice from a president of the Michigan Savings Bank to Henry Ford's lawyer Horace Rackham. Rackham ignored the advice and invested $5000 in Ford stock, selling it later for $12.5 million.

Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.
- Lord Kelvin (1824-1907), ca. 1895, British mathematician and physicist

Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.
- Marshal Ferdinand Foch, French military strategist, 1911. He was later a World War I commander.

Computers in the future may...perhaps only weigh 1.5 tons.
- Popular Mechanics, 1949.

There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.
- Kenneth Olsen, president and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

X-rays will prove to be a hoax.
- Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883

Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?
- Harry M. Warner, Warner Bros, 1927

With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big slice of the US market.
- Business Week, August 2, 1968

Everything that can be invented has been invented.
- Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C', the idea must be feasible.
- A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face, not Gary Cooper.
- Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in Gone With The Wind

I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face, not Gary Cooper.
- Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in It Happened One Night

I couldn’t substantiate which film Gary Cooper was referring to, sorry.

And, how did I verify the quotes I did? Google, of course.

While I was unable to find absolute articles or any quotable tidbits to back this up, can’t you imagine the scoffing reactions to the two young men who co-founded Google just over ten years ago? They were turned away when they went looking for investors.

Bet those naysayers are kicking themselves now.

If you’re still with me, or if you like videos instead of long-winded blog posts, I offer the following:


Joyce said...

Great post, Paula!

I love these quotes. Definitely a good reason for people to keep their mouths shut--unless they're psychic, of course.

Kristi said...

Great quotes and great outlook on things! I'd totally agree that things change and sitting back and taking it all in, instead of worrying, is the way to go! :-)

Jennie Bentley said...

Great quotes. And interesting to note that some of these people were the leading lights of their times. Just goes to show that just because you're brilliant doesn't always mean you'll continue to be brilliant and don't have to change with the times.

Laurissa said...

Great quotes and post. I firmly believe that "Change is Good!" but that being said, I usually go down the road of change, "kicking and screaming." lol

Susan said...

Years ago, I bought my first computer a Tandy 1000 from RAdio Shak. I was blown away by the work processing ability and suggested to the boss that we might want to get computer, especially since we did so much repetitive correspondence where we typed the same letter, just with a different name.

He sighed, tossed his pencil to the desk and said, Susan, computers are a passing fad.


susan meier

Patg said...

Please, Please someone, TELL me what is being suggested and scoffed at. I begged my husband to buy Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon. No, but my investment club did.
Of course, I invested in a few that dropped like a lead balloon too. Oh well.
I think it was Grover Cleveland who said that with the car, nothing more of value could be invented.
Is someone working on a wormhole portal. (Flapping a $5 bill here)

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Fun stuff, Paula.

Change for the sake of change is not always good, but being able to embrace change for the good makes you better.

Annette said...

Having read that list of quotes, I'm thinking Lord Kelvin could have been in the "Too Stupid To Live" category.

Great post, Paula!