Monday, May 6, 2019

Book Value in todays Culture

What is the value of a book in today’s culture?

I find myself now and then thinking what it might be like to write and publish a book.  

Who doesn’t? 

Holding a book in your hand. Your book that you spent months, maybe years working through.  Completed in you hand and staring back at you.  Your title, your name.  It’s a very proud accolade to have under your belt.  

Then I start questioning. 

Stumble down never-ending thoughts. 

Who would read it?  
Why should I even consider publishing a traditional book?
After all, how many books are already out in the world?
And really, will having that accolade of being a published writer mean something? Or will it just be an ego boost for myself? 

Within the last year, three different people that I grew up with have written and published a book.

Two out of the three didn’t surprise me at all.  The third person was a complete surprise--that came out of left field.  

But good for them, I found myself saying as I scrolled through their Facebook posts.  Each of them posted a picture of themselves holding their published hard copy.  A few open boxes at their feet, filled with their new book along with a big smile on their faces.

It must be an exciting feeling.  

Then what?
What happens to those books? 
How many get sold?
How many actually get read?
How many end up on some bookshelves or nightstand?  
A reader noting to him or herself that it’ll be their next book to read.  But do they?

Today’s culture almost makes a book an antique.  Something special that isn’t necessarily understood or fully appreciated.

At the same time, the culture will put someone on a pedestal for writing whatever book or numbers of books. Almost as if, because they have written a book, some how they are more important and more all knowing.  

To prove this: Listen to the news when they are interviewing whatever guest about whatever topic.  The guest has usually written a book about the topic, which, yes, is a good resource.  But the guest somehow becomes displayed as the all-knowing person about whatever topic the new is reporting.  

And really the common viewer or listener of that news story won’t have a clue to who this guest is/was. Nor will they care.  But they will take his/her word because they wrote a book, right?

Another cultural phenomena regarding books or publishing a book: Should you be famous or should something happen to you that puts you into a momentary spotlight of fame. 

Your story isn’t true until you have written a book about your story.  

Most of the time those kinds of writers/stories are ghost written.  But yet the “Author” takes full credit for putting in the time to write that book.  That book will get purchased as a Christmas gift to your parents or grandparents. Only to be set on a shelf or nightstand for a while before getting put into the goodwill box.

It amazes me how many politicians have autobiographies…Just a thought.

Some really old books seem naturally to be considered valuable or more important culturally. That whole antique thing again.  

It looks old so it must be important or valuable.  Better hold onto it and put it on your bookshelves.  I’ll read it at some point…

I know I know.  The glass is half empty.  But then again I see some truth to my post.  Why else is there a chain of stores across the country called Half Price Books?

The last chance to make a buck on a book that has been sitting on a shelf too. 

1 comment:

  1. In a previous post, I quoted Benjamin Franklin:

    “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

    Now, I think it's more of a challenge to get people to read books; more specifically, literary fiction that is not disguised as a screenplay for a movie or Netflix series, video games or anime.

    Today's culture likes moving pictures that can be paused and replayed at will. And superheroes. Lots of superheroes.

    At the IWC workshop, I often said that, as authors, we own our story and our characters in all its mediums, whether it be books, movies, audio, anime...musicals(!). Yet, I was trying to get writers to love their work, to own their characters and to keep writing...and not to lead them with torches and set flame to the art of Literature.

    Has the fire has been set after all?

    We need superheroes to keep it contained or a Netflix contract to serialize the moment.