In a piece for The New York Times, Keillor writes that he is worried “that book publishing is about to slide into the sea.”
He fears that e-books and self publishing will close the door on an era when “e became writers through the laying on of hands. Some teacher who we worshipped touched our shoulder, and this benediction saw us through a hundred defeats. And then an an editor smiled on us and wrote a check and our babies got shoes.”
He describes a future with “18 million authors in America, each with an average of 14 readers, eight of whom are blood relatives. Average annual earnings: $1.75.”
First off. As far as I can tell, the only real difference in Keillor’s future is that the average author will have six readers who are not blood relatives.
How many people do you know who have been slaving away, tinkering on, working at what they think could be the Great American Novel? Everybody’s a writer or thinks they are. People have been writing bad short stories, poems, sketches for hundreds of years.
And most of them haven’t made a dime.
Mr. Keillor — there’s really nothing new about that.
What’s great about self-publishing operations like Amazon’s BookSurge and Pubit from Barnes and Noble, is that it makes it easier for people to get out there and take a chance. Maybe they make nothing, maybe they made Keillor’s mythical average of $1.75.”
The important thing is that people are giving it a go.
Don’t we want a world where more people are trying to communicate? I mean, does he really he think that everyone who self-publishes thinks that they’ve really written the Great American Poem, Novel, Short Story? I’m sure some do. But I’m betting the majority are just people who feel they have something to say.
And let them say it, write it, shout it, blog it, self-publish and podcast it.
Let people dream and share those dreams.
The great writing will still find its way through.
In the meantime, grab a pen, pencil, typewriter, iPad, Kindle, whatever and write! And share what you’ve written.
There’s an audience of billions looking for something to read — the American Association of Publishers on Friday announced that book sales in March were up 16.6 percent, that they’re up eight percent for the year. Audiobook sales overall are up 14.7 percent for the year and the sales of downloaded audiobooks are up 29.3 percent.
AND e-book sales are up 251.9 percent for the year.
I would say that iPads and Kindles and Nooks and so forth are helping more people become readers and writers.
I mean, really. Does it get better? A nation where people are reading and writing? Maybe it’s not all good writing. Big deal. At least people are communicating!
Please relax, Mr. Keillor. It’s all going to be okay.
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