4 November 09 | Chad W. Post

As is only appropriate for someone writing about technology, publishing, and audience development, I’ve been posting all of these French Study Trip posts on my Facebook account as well. Personally, I don’t imagine anyone ever reads these (did you see that one yesterday? It was like the War & Peace of abstracted publishing babble!), but actually, yesterday evening two friends posted a few interesting questions that I thought I’d share here (this is digital cross-pollination) to help foster a conversation.

First off, Robert Richardson (I worked with Robert at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids, MI some years back) asked about who would have access to eBooks: “Did you talk much about how eBooks and eBook publishing may reinforce and expand a global class system via the digital divide?”

A: We actually didn’t talk about this, but it’s a really good point. I still believe print books and eBooks will co-exist, but if they co-exist like CDs and digital music . . . well, that could be a problem. Although it’s likely that e-reading devices will drop in cost, cell phones will be used for this as well, and eBook prices will be lower than printed books. (More on that issue on Thursday.) So maybe . . .

Douglas Carlsen from Whitman College Bookstore brought up a ton of good points: “Some random thoughts – If Indie and Corporate publishers value books for different reasons – your aesthetic/profit dichotomy – then must it necessarily follow that one cannot amplify the other? If brand means no sales – this must mean no readers. If no one is reading a particular work, was it worth printing? What is worth worth? Will the . . . Read More accessibility of ebooks reduce the cost of such works making them more likely to be read and make them more “worth” publishing? What value (aesthetic/profit) is any work that is not read? From the profit point of view none, from the aesthetic some – but, in the end from either point of view, troubling. It comes down to a question – “can we justify our value?”. If accessibility by way of ebooks enhances readership at an aesthetic level then what? Yet will anyone read – let us say for argument – Gravity’s Rainbow as an ebook? or Ulysses? or The Ephemera of a Maid’s Dreaming? What is lost what is gained. Does Reader have more import in the process than publisher, or distributor, or bookseller? Or is all a matter of point of view? But it was noted that there was little of note on the author. Without the author’s endeavors there are no works to read. Can an ebook go directly from author to reader? Yes, of course, but what of the aesthetic/profit issue for author? Are those efforts worth it without value? Ah, to be read. If to write to be read were all, what then? The end.”

I have no answers for this . . . yet. Although to be honest, the author comes back into my rambling posts on Friday . . .

Anyway, chime in below. This should be a discussion—after days of debating and questioning and speculating in Paris, I’m not sure we really figured out jack, except to say that things were changing and that this is scary and filled with opportunities. But I’d rather hear what you think.


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
The Dispossessed
The Dispossessed by Szilárd Borbély
Reviewed by Jason Newport

To be, or not to be?

Hamlet’s enduring question is one that Szilárd Borbély, acclaimed Hungarian poet, verse-playwright, librettist, essayist, literary critic, short-story writer, and, finally, novelist, answered sadly in the negative, through his suicide in 2014, at the. . .

Read More >

A Greater Music
A Greater Music by Bae Suah
Reviewed by Pierce Alquist

A Greater Music is the first in a line of steady and much-anticipated releases by Bae Suah from key indie presses (this one published by Open Letter). Building off of the interest of 2016 Best Translated Book Award longlist nominee. . .

Read More >

Two Lost Souls: on "Revulsion" and "Cabo De Gata"
Two Lost Souls: on "Revulsion" and "Cabo De Gata" by Horacio Castellanos Moya; Eugen Ruge
Reviewed by Tim Lebeau

The dislocation of individuals from the countries of their birth has long been a common theme in contemporary literature. These two short novels recently translated into English appear firmly rooted in this tradition of ex-pat literature, but their authors eschew. . .

Read More >

Melancholy
Melancholy by László Földényi
Reviewed by Jason Newport

In Melancholy, Hungarian author, critic, and art theorist László Földényi presents a panorama of more than two thousand years of Western historical and cultural perspectives on the human condition known as melancholia. In nine chapters, Földényi contrasts the hero worship. . .

Read More >

The Hatred of Music
The Hatred of Music by Pascal Quignard
Reviewed by Jeanne Bonner

Pascal Quignard’s __The Hatred of Music_ is the densest, most arcane, most complex book I’ve read in ages. It’s also a book that covers a topic so basic, so universal—almost primordial—that just about any reader will be perversely thrilled by. . .

Read More >

Fragile Travelers
Fragile Travelers by Jovanka Živanović
Reviewed by Damian Kelleher

In Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Flaubert attempted to highlight the ordinary, tired, and often crass nature of common expressions by italicising them within the text. When Charles, Emma Bovary’s mediocre husband, expresses himself in a manner akin to that of. . .

Read More >

Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei
Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei by Eliot Weinberger
Reviewed by Russell Guilbault

Eliot Weinberger takes big strides across literary history in his genuinely breathtaking short work, 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei, tracking translations of a short ancient Chinese poem from the publication of Ezra Pound’s Cathay in 1915 to Gary. . .

Read More >

Radio: Wireless Poem in Thirteen Messages
Radio: Wireless Poem in Thirteen Messages by Kyn Taniya
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

Prose translators will likely disagree, but I believe translating poetry requires a significant level of talent, a commitment to the text, and near mania, all of which suggests that the undertaking is the greatest possible challenge. The task is to. . .

Read More >

The Subsidiary
The Subsidiary by Matías Celedón
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .

Read More >

Thus Bad Begins
Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marías
Reviewed by Kristel Thornell

Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .

Read More >