Time magazine predicts (this week) a coming new hierarchy of books, with traditional print editions, professionally edited, at the top. At lower shelves (pardon the pun) of the continuum it claims will contain print-on-demand versions, as well as e-books — and let’s not forget fanfiction.
(M)ore books, written and read by more people, often for little or no money, circulating in a wild diversity of forms, both physical and electronic, far outside the charmed circle of New York City’s entrenched publishing culture. … If readers want to pay for the old-school premium package, they can get their literature the old-fashioned way: carefully selected and edited, and presented in a bespoke, art-directed paper package. But below that there will be a vast continuum of other options: quickie print-on-demand editions and electronic editions for digital devices, with a corresponding hierarchy of professional and amateur editorial selectiveness. (Unpaid amateur editors have already hit the world of fan fiction, where they’re called beta readers.) The wide bottom of the pyramid will consist of a vast loamy layer of free, unedited, Web-only fiction, rated and ranked YouTube-style by the anonymous reading masses.
Interspersed throughout the piece are platitudes: Publishing isn’t dying.
I don’t like the sound of this snippet:
We can expect a literary culture of pleasure and immediate gratification. Reading on a screen speeds you up: you don’t linger on the language; you just click through. We’ll see less modernist-style difficulty and more romance-novel-style sentiment and high-speed-narrative throughput.
Actually, I don’t like the sound of other parts of this proposed new future. But its basis seems reasonably sound. What does this mean for writers (big picture)? For editors and proofreaders?
Via Shelf Awareness.