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Page history last edited by Naomi Alderman 15 years, 1 month ago

or "is the internet going to eat my living?"


I talk to a lot of writers who are Filled with Fear about digital technologies. I thought it might be interesting to have a discussion about all the fears - which are justified, which unjustified, and how we can help writers venture into the digital world.

Comments (4)

Kevin O'Neill said

at 10:38 am on Jan 12, 2009

This is vital - though people are always going to write, I think we have to talk about what we should be encouraging. Are there any types of writing that should be discouraged? Is the literary marketplace over-saturated? Is technology making it *too easy* to be published? Do publishers have a responsibility to be more discriminating? What about writing that overtly excludes itself from the publishing industry, by using online forms of dissemination? What about projects that try and centralise this, bring some sort of order to it, to make it more accessible?

Chris Meade said

at 12:01 pm on Jan 14, 2009

This is really important and it would be good to talk about how attitudes are changing or not as the economy crunches and the eReader arrives. Time to look hard at the whole ecology of writing and reading?

Naomi Alderman said

at 1:50 pm on Jan 15, 2009

Yes, I feel like there's a lot of fear-mongering in the industry as well. Certainly those publications directed at authors are very concerned with promoting the old model with their "we will fight Google Books on the beaches, we will fight them on the landing strips" rhetoric. Most authors I speak to think that any chance they have of making money from their writing is going to vanish if the eReader takes hold. Even JK Rowling won't allow her books to be released as eBooks and you wouldn't think she'd have any financial worries...

Personally I think that a lot of other things would fall into place if publishers/technologists were to talk to writers and evangelise a bit about the possible benefits of the new technologies. We really need to build writer/technologist partnerships just like comic books need writer/artist partnerships and songs need writer/musician partnerships.

Nic Gibson said

at 2:54 pm on Jan 15, 2009

Speaking as one of those darn technologists...

I think one of the major causes of fear is the idea that once a book has distributed online (as a hacked eBook, for example) it's gone forever. The problem is that the fear is somewhat grounded in reality. Any author will look at the music industry and see the vast number of ripped off albums floating around the net.

I think that the fear is misplaced here - it is trivial to copy a CD and was trivial to copy vinyl and tape (remember 'Home Taping is Killing Music'?). People see nothing wrong with copying music because we've all been doing it for so long that we have stopped thinking about it. When was the last time you copied a book for someone? It's time consuming and hard work. I tend to believe that difference in viewpoint will carry over to the digital world.

eBooks of various formats are *relatively* new and have been protected in some way since day one (often fairly poorly but protected nonetheless). I don't think users will have the same view that copying is fine because we don't copy books and the DRM on current eBooks is (currently) effective.

I think we need to be able to explain the implications of digital publishing in the various media and the risks and benefits in a clear and effective manner. Perhaps this is something we could be discussing on Saturday.

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