Ewan Morrison: Are Books Dead? • 18 October 2011 • The SnowBlog
Ewan Morrison: Are Books Dead?
To continue the unrelenting book-related gloomfest: I'm not sure how I missed this polemic by Ewan Morrison, in the Guardian, as part of their Edinburgh International Book Festival coverage. Why not have a read, if you haven't already. I'll wait here. Link. Strong stuff, right?
He lays out his stall pretty well, though I would counsel you not to set too much store by estimates of piracy from within an industry. (To my mind, the MPAA and RIAA are both guilty of a frenzy of double-counting. If I download an album illegally, listen to one song, and hate it, they'll decide I stole the full retail price of the album from them - even if I were never going to buy it. If I like what I hear and go and buy the CD to play in the car, they'll still count my download as theft.)
I don't agree with any of his suggestions at the end. I mean, who decides who 'professional writers' are and thus who gets paid? And he also makes little of the fact that an author might get as much income from selling twenty thousand self-published e-books at 1 each as from selling two hundred thousand paperbacks via a publisher at 8 each. Surely the former scenario is much more achievable than the latter. But ultimately I agree that the golden age of writers, musicians and maybe even movie-makers is over. It seems very likely that those industries will contract, fewer people will create art as a way of making a living - but, for what it's worth, there'll be more and better books, music and movies available than ever (because some people will still make a living at it and many will do it for reasons other than the money). I think the key thing to realise, though, is that (as Mick Jagger pointed out) no one said that your industry, be it music, movies or books, owes you a living.