There are a lot of differing opinions about the transformation of the book industry, and whether or not its being destroyed or improved. Book-lovers everywhere are expressing fright for the future. We’d gone from millions of indie, small-time book stores scattered across the country to Barnes & nobles and Borders. Now we’re just down to Barnes & Nobles and who knows how long they are going to last (at least, in Brick & Mortar form.) E-readers are taking over, with the Kindle reaching the #1 predicted Christmas gift in 2011. With Amazon enjoying increasing control over the book industry, their monopolizing power will give them the potential to keep certain publications from view. That is the paranoid consensus, anyway.
In Curtis White’s latest Roundtable blog post, “The Late Word,” he touches on this subject, with all of its fears out in the open. While he argues that the recent Borders/Barnes and Nobles book store business model was outdated an unfair to most authors and publishers, he also argues that “Amazon will be a benign monopoly and will encourage or at least tolerate the continued unruly flowering of this thing we have known as literature, if you thought it was hard to find a book spine out at a superstore, try finding that book of poetry that changes your life and that you didn’t know you were looking for in the web’s ether…” he touches on the fact that some blog recommendations will be made for these hidden gems, but that they will probably only be made by other hobbyist poets and be rarely seen by those who are searching. I beg to differ.
I can’t help but feel that the opportunity for more authors to self-publish their works and “give it a shot” even if the major book publishers don’t think they are worth it is a GOOD THING. Sure, this means that the market will be flooded with a lot a of crap, but it also means that there will be literary GEMS that no one would have been able to have access before. With the world of the internet and all of its abundance of information, I do have faith that the better works of literature will make themselves known. Be it through blog recommendations, social networking, and other means of promotion, works of great literary talent will shine through the masses. It will mean that a friend’s recommendation will carry more weight, with so many more options to choose from. This is not a bad thing. Oprah shouldn’t be the only one who has a say on what is worth reading and what isn’t.
Not to mention, Amazon’s method of listing search result for best-selling, mean that the publications with the poor reviews will sink to the bottom and not be a problem for anyone to sift through anyway. As for their limitations on what books they will sell, think about how long it took them to ban that pedophile’s book, and even then only after an insane amount of pressure from the public. If we, their customers, continually pressure the opposite with all other pieces of literature, we can ensure our freedom of speech in book form.
While I still encourage everyone to support their local small, indie bookstores. However, I would not encourage you to limit yourself to only the small selection they have to offer. I suggest you to browse the internet and search for some awesome blogs that offer recommendations which tend to follow your taste. Also, be sure to follow some of your favorite authors on Twitter and Facebook. Anyway, these are just my thoughts as an avid reader (and Kindle lover.)