Garrison Keillor recently wrote an article for The New York Times, The End of an Era in Publishing, in which he argued the publishing industry as we know it is dying. It’s all self-publishing now, he claims with an old fogey seal of “everything was better in my day” disapproval.
His stance that self-publishing kids these days can just put any old crap out there without editorial input is just ignorant and sounds as if it came straight from the mouths of publishers who are threatened by new technology instead of embracing them into their business models.
Indie publishers, self publishers and bloggers are lumped together in artistic irreverence by Keillor. This new era in publishing is, make no mistake about it, no less than literary Armageddon! Are we supposed to loathe these self-publishing anarchists for destroying our beloved book world as we know it? Need we remind Keillor of some of our great self-publishing forefathers, i.e. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine?
Keillor does admit self-publishing has its good point (though double-edged that one good point may be):
“The upside of self-publishing is that you can write whatever you wish, utter freedom, and that also is the downside. You can write whatever you wish and everyone in the world can exercise their right to read the first three sentences and delete the rest.”
Precisely! The whole point of self-publishing is to bypass the whole evil publishing empire. For years we allowed publishers to be the authority on worthy reading, but now we can let our voices be heard without needing to pass the profit margin litmus test. Independent publishing is about getting stories into the hands of readers, for love of the word, not the dollar.
Are major publishing houses going to have to close their doors just because the masses now have easier access to publishing resources? Highly unlikely, as these advances in technology just serve as a new way for publishers to scout for emerging talent, i.e. Julie Powell of Julie & Julia, who is the poster child of a whole generation of writers waiting to be discovered on the blogosphere.
Keillor’s nostalgia for typewriters and manilla envelopes is misplaced at best and condescending at worst to a generation of writers and publishers who are choosing to allow the literary world to evolve with its readers instead of dying a painful elitist death.