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Hardly any shushing

June 22, 2014

One day a library will include in its list of services, “hardly any shushing” which is something I feel that it is very important to understand. Libraries have changed. If we had not changed, we would not exist anymore. I included “hardly any shushing” in a draft of a promotional brochure—which will likely not see the light of day.

I googled “hardly any shushing” to make sure I was not stealing anyone’s tag line. And, of course, i was. About the Two Old Crows

And as I am not much of a fan of circumlocution, I find it hard to believe that I am being charmed and swept away by the river of Wendell Berry’s writing. Separated by yet more and more words, I found the couplet below.

“Back there at the beginning, as I see now, my life was all time and almost no memory. … And now, nearing the end, I see that my life is almost entirely memory and very little time.” From Jayber Crow, Chapter 3, “Squires Landing.”

And speaking of time and a waste thereof, we have a huge turmoil in the information world that magnifies, to me, the divide between getting your information out of the air electronically, and actually having something to hold like a book or even an e-reader. Everyone is hiding their motivations, and some not so well. Readers want to read, mostly, as economically as possible. Sellers want to sell, as profitably as possible. Publishers want to take the creations of authors and sell to distributors, as profitably as possible. Authors want to profit from their intellectual labors.

Nobody gets to corner this market the way it is built now, and those who try will wind up regretting it, in my opinion. Failing to play nicely together will result in those who will not play nicely getting cut out of the market entirely, be they publishers or sellers—but a source of considerable contentment on my part is that the authors will remain—with a strengthened hand, no less.

Selling at discounts that are below cost is an old trick to get folks in the door, and it still works on the Internet. Authors, who for the most part write because they are driven to, will find a way to market and sell their work—so they get to produce more. Ponderous, profit-making organizations with their many algorithms and focus upon the bottom line could easily be left in the dust by nimble authors who find a way to go straight to the reading public—in ways that are not yet hugely popular.

How about streaming time with your favorite author? I love to curl up with a good book, but would i let Ursula K. Le Guin read me one of her old classics? You betcha. Self-published streaming video textbooks by the expert authors? How much more valuable to have the real deal explaining the material than going through the painful excavation on your own.

Publishers and distributors better respect the geese who have been laying the eggs, lo these many years, and seek out those goslings with the great eggs for the future—but then again it would be just fine to not have ponderous organizations bumbling about and getting in the way of my edification and recreation. Just sayin. Evolve.

I know I am missing lots of the arguments here—it is the nature of opinion. I feel very qualified to speak as a consumer, the single role I have been encouraged to play by society my whole life. If we are nothing but consumers, I think maximizing our power with as little interference and mediation as possible is the way to go.

Hope your evolution is going quite well, mliswilltravel.

About the Two Old CrowsMelody Pittman and Jan Colbert
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