Vanity, Blogging, and the New Old Dead Tree Medium
The self-publishing revolution continues. My comments on this are mostly snarky, and I can't claim to have followed its developments very closely. But right off the top of my head I feel compelled to remind everyone that Lambert allows "self-publishing" on this web site for people, for free. There's a nice little button over to your right if you'd like to show your appreciation for that. Secondly, I'm hip deep in some reading about the Reformation right now, and I'm reminded again of just how powerful "self-publishing" has been in history. For example, English language copies of the Bible were actually eventually banned by Henry VIII; the "reformation" king of England was in theological terms, pretty Catholic in all but allegiance to Rome, and was disturbed by all the sects and dangerous ideas rising up during the period in which he allowed translations to flourish. Turns out this was not a genie he, or anyone, could put back in the bottle. The rest, as we say, is history.
Lots of triumphalist writing has been done about the Intertubes and the information revolution, and in more recent times, a lot of anti-triumphalist material has come out, as the internets have become less free, more top-down, and more clogged with corporate propaganda and just plain ignorant crap. But I'm still a positivist; America isn't the only country in the world and there is still a long way to go in other nations, in terms of what online "self-publishing" of texts, rants, ideas, and news can bring.
As far as dead-tree book self-publishing goes, I think this is a growth curve that will continue, but perhaps only for a limited time. I was just chatting up a young woman on the topic of how she uses new technologies (and when are we going to stop calling them "new?") and she's very much a "download it, don't pay for it, who needs the paper or CD version of it?" sort of person. People like me will always want that feeling of having a 'book in the hand' now and again, but I wonder if we're not a shrinking minority over the longer arc of time. I guess we'll see; the vanity market for dead-tree self-publishing is likely large enough to keep these concerns going for a long time. There's a sucker born every minute, and everyone likes to see their name "in print." Or at least, a lot of people.
Anyway, if any part of this article excites me, it's that the stranglehold of the publishing haus world is loosening. My god have mass-market print books sucked, of late! Not to mention all the winger books on the "best seller" lists. The day can't come soon enough for me; when people buy books equally from "self-publishing" houses as well as more established ones, and the last trustifarian editor is strangled with the entrails of the last trustifarian hack writer. I'm sorry for all the people in the traditional publishing world who are losing their jobs, but I'll give them the advice I'm getting: buck up, it's a New Economy, and you'll just have to adjust. You're on your own!
Perhaps some of those who retain employment in the traditional publishing field, upon reviewing this latest death-knell to their economic model, will take a strong interest in publishing books on union organizing, expanding the social safety net, and progressive taxation of the very rich and large corporations. Just tossing out an idea, you know.