Friday, February 05, 2010

Google and Amazon Trying to Take Over the World? Shut-Up, Please. I Just Want to Read.

Even mainstream news agencies are carrying news about the Google book deal and the Amazon Macmillan electronic rights wars. I’ve read a lot of misinformed articles and cock-eyed assessments of both situations in the last week -- both in the world and on the Web. I’ll bet you have too.

With a few exceptions, we’ve been resisting the urge to comment on either story at January Magazine, other than with the broadest of strokes. This is because, in a very real sense, both stories are outside of our mandate.

January has always been about the celebration of books and reading. There are other -- many other -- publications and blogs whose mandates seems to be to comment on the business end of publishing. It seems to us that, in some ways, there is very little about the publishing industry that has anything to do with books other than making, distributing and selling them. Certainly the appreciation of the written word -- what makes a good book, what ignites that fire in the soul -- has very little to do with the industry of publishing. They are connected thoughts, sure. But they are not the same.

While it can be argued that, in the end without the industry, there can be no books, we would argue back that this is simply not true. These two current situations seem very dire. And to some people, I suppose they are. In the big picture, however, I assure you, they will not be.

I’ve said this before, will likely say it again: when it comes to books, I want my full body immersion. Everything else is just a lot of noise. The industry will go ahead and work out the details and, in a perfect world, everyone will be happy when they do.

When the dust settles -- and it will -- there will be books for us to read. Someone will be publishing them. They might be on paper, they might be electronic. Those involved will make a certain amount of money, or they will not. But, here’s the thing, when I sit near my hearth, or at the beach or under a tree in the summer time, and I have a book in my hand, it will make the world go away. And all of this noise? It doesn’t have a lot to do with that.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Libarbarian said...

Huzzah!

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 3:25:00 PM PST  
Blogger kathy said...

I think you are right to keep out of the brouhaha and continue to do what you do so very well - but, since the topic has been raised, it is worth saying that where all these books come from is writers, and, if we want the magic to continue, their interests and incomes (already averaging out at less than 7.5 per cent of cover price) most certainly need protecting ;-)

Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 9:26:00 AM PST  
Blogger Ruth Seeley said...

Lovely post. Now if they were talking about doing away with libraries so people didn't have access to books regardless of their cost, I'd suggest you enter the fray. But until then, I agree - book publishers and retailers have been warring with each other for decades now - which is precisely what's causing the problem. What other successful industries can we name where the manufacturers and the distributors constantly work against each other rather than with each other? Yes, none that I can think of. ;)

Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 1:02:00 PM PST  
Blogger Linda L. Richards said...

Great comments you guys, thanks!

Kathy, as an author myself I'm well aware of concerns from that angle. Will my fretting -- and even shouting -- about it help? It will not. And I think we spend a little too much time right now thinking in business terms when it comes to books and losing site of the thing that drives all the brouhaha. They'll duke it out. They'll work it out. And me? Like I said: I'll be over here, in my favorite chair. With a book.

Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 3:05:00 PM PST  
Blogger lil Gluckstern said...

Me too. If Ebooks help people read, great, but I'm just happy, with books, libraries, and good, nice authors...in my favorite chair.

Monday, February 8, 2010 at 10:18:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Andi Shechter said...

I know that i've spent far too many hours hearing worried conversations about "the end of books" because of new technology and, to some degree, that reality that those kids today don't read fiction. But it is a specious argument i think as you know what? We will always have books. And ways to access them. I'm sure that discussions like "whither books" are timeless discussions and repeat every couple of generations.
As a side note, I'm a science fiction fan who began attending conventions in the 70s and i've been at those conversations too. And yet, we survive.

Monday, February 8, 2010 at 1:23:00 PM PST  

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