There is a bit of bruhaha these days on two articles, first was the article Jonathan Franzen that lambasted the self-pub revolution and Amazon. He came off as a caricature of literary types, arrogant and contemptuous. He made rather stupid and far-fetched political analogies.
And there was article by Ewan Morrison that compared the ebook phenomenon to a bubble– a very wrong and ill-conceived comparison. The ebook phenomenon is a gold rush with deflationary pressures on pricing. A bubble is a gold rush with a inflationary pressures on pricing. All bubbles have something in coming, skyrocketing prices. Dot-com bubble, stupid stock prices. Housing bubble: housing prices went through the lroof. Tulip bubble: you guessed it. So you have skyrocketing prices fueled by cheap money.
This is emphatically not what is happening with ebooks. The pricces are trending to zero. Supply outstrips demands. Last I checked the Amazon stocks aren’t skyrocketing. Ok sure Amazon stands to make a lot of money even if individual authors don’t. However, Amazon is entitled to make a profit on their investment. They made the technology, they have a high traffic website. They deserve their money. Now you may say, in this ebook revolution, books are being devalued. There may come a point when the public would refuse to read books anymore because they are afraid of stepping on self-pub bad eggs.
Not true. If anything, it would make trad pub more valuable in the long run. Not only that, you can’t underestimate the intelligence of the crowd. Already, we have book clubs, book bloggers, reviewers. A lot of the self-pub works are hidden from sight. If your book isn’t featured on the bestselling lists of Amazon, your books is effectively hidden from the average reader. It isn’t hard to avoid self-pub. Just buy the 12/13 dollar ebooks, or the ebooks where it says “price set by publisher”
The market is increasingly bifurcated between the masses who muck in the dollar-three dollar ghetto and those who buying the ten dollar ebooks. I fail to see the Armageddon argument here. The sky isn’t falling.
I personally don’t understand why criticisms against self-pub involve glamourising the gatekeeping function of the big publishers These ebook detractors want messiahs, or saviors who will lead the masses on the good books to read and the bad books to advoid. But they equally forget about the trad-pub well-edited but shitty books that are ignored by the public everyday. The books that bookstores return to the publishers to be pulped and forgotten. The books that sell for pennies in thrift stores. They forget the sheer waste of the publishers they like so much. They forget the celebrity books, the fluff books.
They betray a snobbery of masses. Believe me, Joe Plumber can decide for himself what he’ll read. He knows what is a good yarn and what is bad yarn. If he’s too afraid to decide for himself. He asks his friends for recommendation, or consult book bloggers. See right there, magic, wisdom of the crowds. Joe Plumber found himself a book read. If the book is badly edited, Joe Plumber can either return it, or tell others to stay away from the author. See, the beauty of the market. Cream rises to top, albeit cream that a billion Joe Plumber’s want not the cream that a few hundred literary types from New York want.
Arguments about the evils of self-pub boil down to snobbery and envy. If you don’t like self-pub books, don’t read them. Go buy the ten dollar ebooks.