The Kindle and Literary Fiction

I will readily proclaim that some fiction is popcorn as compared to others.  Does this mean I don’t read popcorn? No. It just means that I’m honest with myself.  I won’t try to make all fiction equal in its intellectual value, or decry some books as uppity or pretentious because I’m insecure about my intelligence. I certainly won’t try to claim some kind of plebeian virtue over my popcorn tastes

That said, kindle self-publishing has been a boon to popcorn fiction market.  It’s so much easier to succeed if you’re writing romances or erotica as opposed to writing literary fiction.  And I suspect that the hurdle of succeeding in literary fiction in the self-publishing universe, is much harder than getting your literary book traditionally published for a modest advance.

There are a few reasons for this.  Literary fiction has never really been a money maker.  It is the prize winners that get exposure, everything else sinks.  Trad publishers used their profits from the blockbuster fiction to subsidize the serious books.

Also literary readers tend to be more conservative about books.  They still hold prefer paper over ebooks.  I understand the preference.  I prefer to have a paper version of Absalom, Absalom. It gets tiring to read long sentences on the screen.  Also kindle is great for fast reading.  Slow reading is a chore on the the screen.

It is for this reason, I wish the trad publishers get themselves together, find their footing, and finally become the curator of literary culture they are so quick to claim to be.  Self-publishing would not yield the likes of Cormac McCarthy or Thomas Pynchon.  Yeah yeah, their books are hard to read. It’s their own damn fault that they write book stoppers instead of riveting stuff. True, but not all literature should be riveting stuff.  It would be a shame if the literary culture is dominated with Read-and-Forget-it fiction, the  Fifty shades of grey equivalents.


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