Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Will books, as we know them, come to an end?"

Take a look at this article from entitled "Are Books Dead, and Can Authors Survive?"

As Chris Anderson said in his book Free: Why $0.00 is the future of business: "Every industry that becomes Digital will eventually become free."
The reason why a living wage for writers is essential is that every industry that has become digital has seen a dramatic, and in many cases terminal, decrease in earnings for those who create "content". Writing has already begun its slide towards becoming something produced and consumed for free.

Visit the Annoyed Librarian for an interesting take on this article, full of snark and wisdom.

Betteridge’s Law of Headlines usually gets confirmed with every instance of a question mark in a headline I see. The problem with this headline is that it has two questions. Are books dead? No! Can authors survive? Yes, at least depending on what you mean by an author.
Why couldn’t the Guardian just ask if authors were dead? No!

What do you think? The Guardian article does seem focused more on adult publishing--but could children's publishing be headed that way as well?


Joni said...

Very interesting, Liz, thanks for the link.

As an English major, I have to believe that Literature, capital L, has value (beyond the value of entertainment), and that's what will probably take the biggest hit in this (likely) scenario. Sorry, but there's a big qualitative and cross-temporal difference between the impact on culture and society of Snookie and Shakespeare (and plenty of commoners went to the theatre and saw the later).

I agree with the commenter on the librarian's blog who talked about the dumbing down of culture. Not that there hasn't always been plenty of dumbness, but the democratization of information makes it more and more difficult for experts and smartness to break through the noise.

Glad I have a day job. We all may need to work for Amazon soon. :) (Some of us already do!)

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure about that. Movies have been digital for quite some time and we still pay for those - even if only through subscription.

As far as the cost being set by the value of writing, Edgar Allan Poe was only paid a few dollars for some of his greatest works and died a pauper. Charles Dickens made a very comfortable living and they were nearly contemporaries. The difference? Poe was rigid, difficult to work with, and narrow in his relationships with people and marketing. Dickens was friendly, enjoyable, and broad in his willingness to try new publishing and marketing opportunities.

And yet, many scholars would argue that Poe is a better, and more literary, writer than Dickens.

I believe there is a lesson here for all of us. Most especially, focus on your work, focus on your marketing, network, be pleasant, and look for opportunities. Let the future worry about itself.