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Are There Too Many Books? The Slippery Slope.

Updated: 4 days ago


Piles of books.

It seems in today’s consumer driven economy, more is better. More is choice. And for most readers, while the choice of what to read next can be paralyzing, choice is a good thing. So how can there possibly be too many books to choose from?

 

With all due respect to Gertrude Stein, I would contend that a book is not a book is not book. We can argue about the good books, categorize the great books, and slam the bad books, but at the end of the day, it’s the reader who ultimately decides. 

 

So let’s look at books from the reader’s perspective. I think the good, the great, and bad book debate might simply distill down to a single factor. The author. Did the author connect with the reader? Did the author tell the reader an authentic or interesting story? Did the author craft a well written story? 

 

And herein lies the slippery slope. In today’s publishing economy, I see four different types of authors. Books created by:


  • Writers. With tools available on-line today, anyone who can put words on a page can publish their work. And it doesn’t even have to be original.  We have all seen the rip-off / paraphrased works that flood Amazon in the wake of an established book that is selling well. 

  • Authors. Authors study and practice their craft. They create and compose literary works, as an occupation or profession. 

  • Entrepreneurs. These are the “authors” using data mining techniques to identify the hot story lines and trends, then using AI and self-publishing tools to crank out books to meet the demand / interest.  Entrepreneurs find success by taking risks, and often become disruptors in established industries. Including publishing.

  • Publishers. More and more it seems, manuscripts are selected from the submission pile and rushed out the door—poorly constructed and with little or no editing—in a mad dash to be the next greatest new release in a frenzied trend. A manuscript is not judged by its literary merits, but rather on its ability to generate revenue.

 

I don’t think we have too many books. I think we have too few authors creating books.

 

Can AI really replace the human talent, the practiced craft that it takes to truly connect with a reader? Can the fast-fashion approach to books—publish them specifically to ride the shirt tails of a trend then see what sticks and remainder the rest—produce authentic or interesting stories? 

 

I don’t think we have too many books. I think that there are too few books created by people who care about the actual book “product” they put out.


Robin

 

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