Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I'm home from work today as I am sick... bummer...

That said, it's always kinda nice to have a day at home to tidy the apartment and putter around and read and marathon season 2 of "Entourage"... ya know...

Anyway, a good friend of mine just posted an interesting interview of Margaret Atwood from the Globe. The interview is on the topic of e-books/e-reading, and it's a great, quick read. Atwood doesn't necessarily disagree with the use of them, but she has some really interesting points to make about them.

It made me think about something, but first let me quote the interviewer, Rosalind Porter:
Yet publishers and booksellers are allowing themselves to imagine a nightmarish world in which they are irrelevant – where technology companies which distribute e-books, such as Amazon, Sony, Google and Apple, also take over the choosing and the selling of books. Gail Rebuck, the chief executive of Random House in the U.K., recently described her “idea of hell” as a website ‘with 80,000 self-published works on it’ – a world where publishers and bookshops are replaced by a sort of online, super slush pile. Despite these fears, many smaller, independent publishers have had a few very profitable years, perhaps as a result of concentrating their focus on the books themselves and allowing the hyperbole of the yet-to-come iPod moment for books to simply see itself out.
This is a really interesting idea: publishing companies being taken over by the technology companies that distribute e-books. As I said, it made me think of something, which Atwood sort of alludes to... the music industry. Justin Bieber (tired example) and many others are now being discovered on the Internet. Even if you just have a crappy webcam you can record a song and post it on a platform that makes it possible to reach an audience of millions. Another thought: I can't think of the last time I bought a CD! On top of that, the process of recording, even in a studio, is increasingly (although I'm sure not exclusively) digital. Basically I'm saying, anyone with a computer can record a song.

But what about a book? Can just anyone write a book? Perhaps not yet... it's still a process that requires a lot of jumping through hoops and other obstacles, but maybe it's heading in that direction. My blog, for example. I know at least a few people read it, so I've got my work published out there... on a website, sure, but my writing is being read. It wasn't that long ago that an opportunity like this was unheard of. My blog's not making me famous or anything, but my writing is being read... it's that simple, but sort of amazing at the same time.

So if it's this easy for me to get my writing read, then could I just get a whole book online, too?

The thing is, publishers, record companies, etc. are out there to get stuff published or produced, but also to decide what could sell. What sells is (ideally, but definitely not always) what's good. I go on the Hype Machine a lot for music; a lot of it's good, but a lot of it is decidedly not good. What if all books were aggregated on a site like that? Wouldn't I have to hunt through a lot of amateur crap for a good read, whereas going to Indigo and looking at the top sellers can partially guarantee that I'm going to like what I buy... see what I mean? That said, I know that a lot of what sells isn't good, or at least not to a lot of people's tastes, so my points can be argued, but, it's definitely interesting to think about.

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