Things suck is an acceptable POV. Nothing wrong with a solid dose of cynicism topically applied. Problem is, in this instance, Kevin doesn't apply it broadly enough. Many books published by big and small publishing houses, many achieving popular success, are crap too. Poorly edited if, indeed, edited. Over-familiar plot lines revealing unidimensional characters through a parade of clichés. No need to go into the reasons for this. It happens enough that quality cannot be the single defining criteria for being published by recognized houses. Circumstance and cronyism play their parts too. Of course they do. That is the nature of culture. One determination of quality is that it links to existing culture, and has been vetted by the current cultural experts.
I think it's good that technology has eroded some hurdles in the race to publication, but I say that having myself indulged the mistaken hope that this would lead to industrial-era, pre-info age success. The industrial era was all about amortizing up-front tooling costs through mass production and sales. Technology has reduced and in some cases eliminated those tooling costs, but one additional consequence is that it is destroying mass markets as well. This is a challenge not just to traditional publishing methods but to concepts of majority democracies and capitalist economics. The centre does not hold. Fact is, for a writer's ideas to be consumed by 50, 200, 1,000 readers is not to do too badly at all. Even if the number included my mother.
It's understandable that those with economic, political or emotional stakes in existing technologies would rally around issues of perceived quality, but they are almost always caught in their own arguments- academics declaiming the reliability of the internet while updating their entries on wikipedia, or big news media proclaiming their dedication to unbiased research while embedding reporters in war-time militaries. History is forever rewritten however durable the medium. There would be scandal, but most of the world has moved on, getting information that interests them as individuals via cell-phones and celebrity TV where it is accepted that quality varies and truth is pointless.
This debate about self-publishing has whiskers. It is my understanding that Google has mostly reached a settlement regarding copyrights. Few will be happy, but it does seem a workable relationship with creators. You can download movies, music, books etc. over the internet. Digitization is a done deal. What makes Kindle worthy of discussion?
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, November 07, 2009 7:56 PM
Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: E-books? eBooks? e-Books? ebooks?
Kevin, nobody was ever hurt by a bad book (or a bad piece of music, painting, sculpture, etc.). I see no reason to get in such a lather about self-published books, whatever their quality. If your point was that most things suck, I agree but what shall we do about it? Hold a farewell party to Good Things and Good Times? I think the doctrine that things suck is very old. Nothing good has ever come out of it, to my knowledge.
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