As an American, one feels obligated to have opinions. This week I’m letting other people have my opinions for me. The first set of opinions is the one I agree with 100%, as presented by Michael Graeme of The Rivendale Review in his post: Is Amazon Good for Aspiring Writers?. Michael makes all sorts of great points with which I agree entirely; therefore I deem these opinions to be good and right and just, especially in his summation: “things are changing drastically at the money end of the book business, but for your average aspiring writer, it looks pretty much like business as usual to me.”
On the other side there is this set of opinions with which I do not whole-heartedly agree, in Chuck Wendig’s blog post Amazon, Hachette and Giant Stompy Corporations. I do not entirely disagree with everything said in there. I fact, once I read it a second time I was inclined to agree with much of it, until he gets to the part where he conflates value with money (as so often happens these days) – where paying more for a thing is seen as a measure, if not a justiication, of its value. In the real world of supply and demand, it is scarcity that tends to cause higher prices, not some imagined intrinsic worth of a thing. The more you pay for something, in his world, the more people you are supporting along the way, therefore you are contributing to the common good. You buy goat cheese at the farmer’s market, and local farmers prosper. I can see that. I like goat cheese. I support my local farms here where I live. But … you pay more for books, and … some imagined community of writers prospers? Are you supporting every guitar player in the world when you download an mp3 file? I don’t happen to think so. There’s this widespread idea that if art was free then there would be no more artists. That’s crazy talk. As far as I can tell, art – even Art with a capital A – is Biological with a capital B. It’s going to happen. It’s part of what we are, as animals, in fact all animals (mammals and birds at least) create some kind of art. They communicate. They make music. They appreciate the world as they see it (which we can scarcely even imagine!) Call me crazy but I think this is all true.
Take the money out of art and what you are left with is art, in the same way that twelve minus zero is twelve.
Take a look at Wattpad if you think there’s some shortage of writers or the impulse to write. Take a look at Soundcloud if you think there’s some scarcity of musicians. Take a look at YouTube if you think people aren’t doing shit with video. Take a look at Tumblr if you think there are no painters or photographers or cartoonists or other visual artists. Art, when you get right down to it, is primarily one of the many ways people attempt to get laid, especially young people, and it ain’t gonna stop happening.
So okay I threw some of my own opinions in there along with the more sensible ones of Michael Graeme and the interesting if sometimes questionable ones of Mr. Wendig. But that’s all right. I am an American. It’s my obligation.
It was election day here in California. As usual, I voted for more government. Yay.