All Is Not Vanity

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All Is Not Vanity: The rise of literary self-publishing.

This article makes some interesting observations on various Post-Gutenberg publishing issues… despite still being too tied to the old model in some ways, with many assumptions based on it.

I would argue that the Post-Gutenberg Revolution places the responsibility, if not duty or test, of discernment and taste, upon the reader… As the author of the article rightly points out, all the leading, traditional, review publications are corrupted by the advertising dollars of the mega-publishers, just as much as an author who would pay someone to review their book on Amazon or elsewhere, which was recently in the news.

It seems to me the Internet and social networking provide the potential reader with the opportunity of knowledge of a writer’s work, and therefore the possibility of exploring it further. As has been observed, a great book judges its reader as much as the reverse–all the more true in the current Post-Gutenberg world, tired of the “taste” of the corporate gatekeepers, but still too often in limbo waiting for the new world to be born, not actively enough bringing it into being. For a long time I’ve thought of this as the reader not realizing how much power they actually have.

Self-publishing is at a stage analogous to the early days of Wikipedia, when users were
reluctant to trust information contained in a communally written encyclopedia…. Whether
the increasingly virtual world of selfpublishing will eventually learn to regulate itself is an
open question.

It’s not a matter of regulation, which would mistakenly re-install an hegemony, but a further extension and development of democratic space and openness, wherein perceptive voices can identify, nurture, and cultivate taste, persuading through merit and argument. What is the literary tradition in all national literatures if not that? Convention and revolt with newly digitized tools…

All Is Not Vanity: The rise of literary self-publishing.

Frederick Glaysher

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