26th Story asks why readers should have to chose between print and digital formats of an author's work:
If I want to read White Tiger on "durable paper," fine. But if I want both the paper and the electronic versions, I should be able to pay almost nothing extra for the second version. That's what readers will want--and if we divide the publishing world into paper versus bytes, we'll set up a dangerous competition in which paper will lose, and the result will be that publishers and authors--and ultimately, therefore, readers--will lose as well.
I happen to agree. There is no reason why readers should have to chose between the formats or, if unable to make the choice as this blogger is, to purchase the book twice. Of course, this leads to enforcement issues (how to you make sure the reader has paid at least once?) and dreaded DRM policies as well.
I find myself increasingly believing (and yes I understand how ridiculous this sounds) that we need some sort of socialist system for art in this country.
We're currently trying to mesh two systems that are inherently opposed to each other. On the one hand, there's the capitalist economy of the publishers and book sellers and (though to a much smaller degree) the author him/herself. On the other hand, you have the free economy of the internet that has always been about the uninhibited transfer of information. These two systems are not going to find a happy medium.
With the possible exception of web designers, no one actually sells the internet. Amazon sells books and other products on the internet, advertisers seek market attention through the internet, but all of these examples reference something that actually exists somewhere other than in cyberspace. The internet is (thankfully) a free source of information. Trying to create a system that economizes that is wrong. What would be better, though probably just as impossible to get off the ground, would be to federalize the publishing industry.
Of course, there's a slight risk of 1984 here, but there needn't necessarily be. We could keep the same architectural structure that exists now in publishing (though possibly trimmed a little), and books would be accepted or rejected in much the same way. The only major differences would be the end of outrageous advances and the payment of all royalties to come from the federal government. It might make book publishing less attractive to some people, but those people are bound to be disappointed in this current climate anyway. Or, if the feds paying for publication hits you the wrong way, how about increasing the number of grants available from the NEA?
With so little money left in publishing, it is beginning to make more and more sense to remove money from the equation altogether. Writers, editors, printers, etc. should be subsidized with a living wage and then told to offer their wares for free to the public. This is the sort of open communication the internet was built for, and as long as we are fighting it, there is going to be a bitter struggle that creates many more losers than winners.
Causes Jonathan Dozier-Ezell Supports
Literacy, literacy, literacy ... and world peace.