Today’s Cranky Observation

If ever I needed to present any evidence that this blog post by Matthew Yglesias was mindboggling in its sheer wrong-headedness, this quote alone would do the trick:

Transforming a writer’s words into a readable e-book product can be done with a combination of software and a minimal amount of training.

It appears that even noted bloggers on politics and economics aren’t exceptions to the widespread belief that novels aren’t so much made objects as they are the naturally-occurring fruit of the fiction tree.

There are a whole lot of things that have to happen to an author’s manuscript before the printer, or the e-book producer, ever gets hold of it, and surprise, all of these things involve the services of people who expect to get paid for their labor.  Yes, the author could do these things him-or-herself,  or could hire other people to do them for him/her – but authors generally have other things to do with their money (such as eating, or paying the internet bill), and other things to do with their time (such as writing more books.)

Maybe some things could be better for authors than, in the current scheme of things, they are . . . but improving the lot of authors by bringing down traditional publishing is a bit like improving the lot of coal miners by closing down all the mines.

6 thoughts on “Today’s Cranky Observation

  1. I haven’t read Yglesias’ post, but you get a big fat WRONG buzzer for this one.

    “[I]mproving the lot of authors by bringing down traditional publishing is a bit like improving the lot of coal miners by closing down all the mines.” is about as wrong-headed an analogy as one could come up with. The assumption is that the only place for authors to get paid for their work is through traditional publishers. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 10 years, you know that isn’t the case.

    In general analogies are a lousy way to try to argue a point, but one that comes about a million miles closer to reality than yours would be the mine workers taking over ownership of the mines. Not a guarantee of success and riches for the miners, but often it works out in their favor.

    1. I’m actually in favor of a diversified publishing ecology, of which traditional publishing would be a part, but not the only part.

      I’m just not in favor of the “let it all burn down” approach, mostly because there are a whole lot of writers out there whose careers and survival strategies have been fine-tuned over time to work with traditional publishing, and if traditional publishing goes away, a lot of those writers are going to go away with it, and a lot of the rest of them are going to have to take time off from their writing in order to retool their survival strategies, which isn’t going to do anything good for their short and medium term finances. (For their long-term ones, maybe, but most of us live and pay our bills in the short and medium term.)

      1. That’s an attitude I can agree with. Personally I don’t think there’s much danger of traditional publishing “burning down” any time soon. But if it does — well, the world is always changing in ways that make life difficult and more complicated for some people. I seem to recall that notion being broached once or twice in science fiction. 🙂

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