Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What Is The Value Of Literature?

Earlier this week, I found myself participating briefly in a discussion about reading preferences between ebooks and physical books. 

In the course of the discussion, it became clear to me that there is an expectation on the part of a certain section of consumers and readers that a literary title presented to them in digital form should be priced dramatically lower than its print counterpart or, in many cases, it should be free.

Now, while I can accept that ebook pricing by and large should be set on a different tier to its print counterpart, their was a part of the consensus view point that made me angry.

It seemed to me, in the course of the discussion, that readers have very little concept of the work an author puts into creating,  writing, editing and producing a story. 

When an author commits to a project, it can consume anywhere up to a couple of years of your life. The amount of research, the character development, story development, editing, proof reading that is required of a writer is significant. It can be quite a daunting prospect to will a story from a few scattered ideas. 

And this, of course, is all before the manuscript is handed over to an editor and publisher.

At the end of that writing journey, when you have done everything to ensure that your story is the best possible story it can be, to be confronted with the kind of mentality that says - "oh I would never pay more than X amount of dollars for an ebook" or "I only read free titles" or I don't believe ebooks are real books..."

It actually angers me.

The one side effect of the explosion in digital reading I've observed is the degradation in the value of writing as a craft by consumers and the degradation of the value of literature as a whole. Additionally, the reaction of some authors to that side effect, is to further devalue their own work by chasing consumers, almost begging them to take on their work.

It is something that, I believe, should be addressed and challenged.


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