Via the ever-cheerful Guardian, Ewan Morrison provides a useful summary of the “gloom & doom” outlook on where publishing and writing — specifically, the ability to make a living at writing — are going to be in the future.
Frankly, I think Morrison is deliberately overstating the negatives (for instance, I’m sure there are others, but he’s the first I’ve come across who views the “long tail” marketing model as bad for writers) because he’s pitching for an alternate model of how writers should get paid —
Namely, a National Endowment for the Arts-type model, in which writers who meet with the approval of the government’s cultural arbiters are given a stipend from the taxpayers. Granted, those taxpayers would probably rather spend their money on gooey vampire porn or John Locke/Donovan Creed-type action adventures, but hey, screw ’em; the “arts” (meaning the politically correct paintings ‘n’ books) must be supported. The money-shot line in Morrison’s piece is this: “The only solution ultimately is a political one. As we grow increasingly disillusioned with quick-fix consumerism, we may want to consider an option which exists in many non-digital industries: quite simply, demanding that writers get paid a living wage for their work.” Well, that’s fine, as long as I’m one of the writers who politicians decide should get funded out of the public treasury — I rather suspect that I’m not going to make the cut, though.
As I said above, a deliberately overstated case. For myself, I’m going to run with the bulls rather than the bears regarding the future of digital publishing.