How many times it has happened to me and probably countless other people? You find the right lipstick, mascara, hair brush, shampoo, detergent, vacuum cleaner bag, pantyhose, pen, pencil, stationery, bra, socks, coffee maker, and so forth and when you need to refill and restock your particular item is no longer on the shelf. And when you ask the helpful clerk, “Where can I find the (insert item here)? You used to have them here.” the clerk answers with the dreaded shrug “We don’t carry them anymore. They’ve been… discontinued.” If you are like me, you race home and search frantically through Amazon, Ebay, Craigslist and various other sites searching for the last remaining item you MUST have. If you are like me, you discover that your item has been discontinued for several months already and the last remaining items have been stashed away already by someone else.
It’s not just things anymore is it? Technology has away of becoming obsolete too. We recently went to show a DVD to our Little Man. Pulled it out of its place, checked it for scratches and cleanliness, inserted it into the NEW DVD player. “You are going to love this movie, Little Man! We’ve been saving it all these years just for you!” And with the press of the magic “load” button the machine swallows the disc. The machine begins to whirr, the disc is spinning. Loading Disc appears on the display. Anticipation builds. Then…. “No Disc” appears. And yes, we tried it several times. A quick trip to the Geek Squad let us know immediately that the DVD player is new and the disc is old. The new player cannot read the old encoding. We need a new disc. Which can be found in stock on aisle 6 for $19.95!
If you tried to open our website this morning, you would have seen a blank grey screen. Our website was down. Apparently, one of the technological thingys was causing a problem. A quick call to the hosting company by A. Marie (she speaks techno speak better than I do) asking them to deactivate all the thingys brought our site back up but now comes the task of figuring out which thingy – this time – caused the crash. Apparently, a thingy can become out of date and what was once a compatible pleasant thingy is now a thingy of destruction and doom. Really getting on my nerves. Because why can’t things be left well enough alone? Why can’t my thingy work indefinitely? Why must I get a new disc? I didn’t change it, so, shouldn’t the person/entity making the changes be responsible for updating everything to make everything work? Or at least give me a new disc for free. I had already spent $19.95 on one, should I receive free upgrades? And free upgrades on thingys! By free I mean hassle free too.
Everything, it seems, gets discontinued sooner or later. Even books become out-of-print (which should be a crime, thank you very much). Out-of-print can mean that the copyright expired and the book no longer is in the hands of the original publisher, or perhaps the sales were not good and only the scheduled print run was produced and no more printings have been scheduled. In the digital age, it’s difficult to know what “out-of-print” or “no longer available” will mean. There are many pieces of literature which have never fallen out-of-print. Obviously, religious texts and Shakespeare’s plays have been printed continuously. The Iliad and Odyssey and Beowulf and the Aeneid and the like have been in continuous print or at lease retelling. In fiction there are a number of books, Robinson Crusoe, The Fountainhead, Dracula to name but a few. One in particular began as a serialized novel and has been a quiet but fantastic story for 150 years. One of my personal favorites. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. Check it out. And ask yourself, is what I write today strong enough to remain in print? Or will I be discontinued?
We are accepting submissions to out May/June issue. The theme is 3 wishes. What would you wish for? To be in continuous print? Immortality? A super power? Let us know!