Okay. I’ve never read The Passive Voice before. I have this vague idea that I’ve heard of it somewhere, (Probably on Hugh Howey’s blog) but until now, I’ve never read it. But recently Mr. Howey reblogged one of the Passive Guy’s posts, How the Amazon-Hachette Fight Could Shape the Future of Ideas.
I haven’t been staying very well informed on the Amazon-Hachette fight, but as I understand it, for you who haven’t heard of this whole big mess, Hachette, which has a contract of some sort with Amazon, is accusing Amazon of delaying the shipping of any of their books that are ordered through Amazon and of not giving them all they’re due, money-wise.
This post of mine isn’t exactly about that, but more about PG’s response to an article about it in the Atlantic.
From the Atlantic article:
Amazon has so much control over what it surfaces. Even if Amazon doesn’t do anything overtly to prevent certain books from being published, they would have so much control over what you’re likely to see or buy, it’s not good for democracy.
Because who could be better for democracy than a small number of huge international media conglomerates controlling the future of ideas?
What could be better for democracy than an inbred group of gatekeepers who decide what appears in bookstores and what does not?
What could be better for democracy than contracts that control and restrict what authors are permitted to write?
PG submits that Amazon is far more egalitarian and pro-democratic than big corporate publishing is.
Want to write about your personal philosophy? Want to push the boundaries of the literary form?
Don’t go to New York. For all their pretense (read the entire Atlantic article), they’re cogs in a corporate world that’s cramped by convention and quarterly profit requirements, pretenders striking poses for one another.
This is the group that has presided over a long decline in American reading, questing for short-term gain by pushing book prices ever higher while paying authors less and less and transforming them from independent artists into anxiety-ridden grist for a soul-destroying mill.
Literature in the United States was doing just fine before the industrial literary era dawned, killing dozens of small publishers and thousands of independent bookstores.
Make no mistake about it, today’s traditional publishing establishment is the product of decades of consolidation, concentrating more and more power over what is published into fewer and fewer hands. The latest and largest example of this trend is the merger of Random House and Penguin to create the largest publisher in the world.
As independent authors arise, empowered by Amazon’s democratic commons of ideas, PG says we’re looking at a renaissance of American literature, an upheaval that is shoving the suits out and putting authors back in charge of the art they create.
Despite the dying spasms of Big Publishing, the wall between writers and readers is coming down. Uncontrolled and unmediated ideas are being released into the wild, giving readers the opportunity to decide which will flourish.
Whether the path out of corporate serfdom comes via Amazon or someone else, authors who have discovered the freedom that comes with owning and controlling the fruits of their labors are not going back to the plantation.
As Passive Guy has read the tsunami of screeds that have erupted from various participants in the legacy publishing world, he has noted a common subtext: “Big Publishing is the devil we know. It gives me enough gruel to survive. Don’t mess with my gruel!”
PG and many independent authors agree in part. We do know that devil and believe it’s time for that devil to go. Whether a new devil arises or not, we know the old one is beyond redemption. We’ve found a better way.
I’m just going to leave it at that, because PG’s writing is wonderful, and one or two or three or four of the Middlings were playing with a roll of newsprint and left it unrolled in the middle of the dining room, and it’s getting on my nerves, so I’m going to go clean it up and maybe hide it away forever while they sing Do You Wanna Build a Snowman and the Dora the Explorer theme song upstairs. 🙂
Have a nice weekend, folks.