jeudi 11 juin 2015

Independent Book Publishers Reflect The Tradition

By April Briggs

One of the most disliked aspects of modern life is the tendency toward centralization is the drift toward conglomeration. To its critics, this leads to a world of products made without passion or distinction. Trying to withstand this tidal wave of multinational corporate dominance, independent book publishers hang on almost against all hope.

The ultimate difference between independent and corporate owned publishing is that the former has at its core someone who got into the business out of a genuine love of books. Still better would be someone driven by a real love of literature, but maybe one should not demand too much. This gives some hope that more thoughtful decisions will be made about which books get published and which do not.

Many who staff and own these small companies have degrees from a Master's of Fine Arts program. One generally thinks of these programs as training teachers, either at the college or high school level, who will then pass on the skills requisite to the art. Of course, the teaching career would be a pleasant job that met the graduate's financial needs. Their true passion would be remaining an engaged artist who, with luck, grows in prestige over the years within that art's small circle.

The ranks of the MFA grads swell while the relative number of academic posts lags behind. Simultaneous to this is a dramatic drop in the number of people in the symphony hall, the number of subscribers to poetry magazines, even indie film theaters. Every year the need to support arts institutions and build new ones grows more clear.

A growing number of graduates sees the business side of art not just as a fallback to the academy but as the arts' true battlefield in this century. Too few without gray hair seem to be visiting the symphony anymore. More MFA programs each year offer courses in the production of little magazines and small volumes of poetry.

Much of the difficulty comes from the online world. On the one hand, it has made arts available at the click of a mouse. On the other, it has proved difficult to monetize online work, and without monetization there is no way for artists and poets to make a living.

There is worry about an even more direct effect of technology that tends to depress the consumption of challenging art. The public shows signs of having its attention span shortened by the ever more frenetic pacing of mass media. It is not uncommon to come across young people who cannot tolerate black and white movies, much less silent film. Those living such a quick-twitch lifestyle are not likely to sit through a modern dance performance, or even to hear of it.

21st century technology takes, but it also gives new opportunities, some with great potential. Indie publishers might like to hearken back to the 1920s, and its heroic little magazines. Meanwhile, the future of the arts might belong to the self-publisher, building his or her book entirely online, who might not even have an MFA.

About the Author:

Aucun commentaire:

Enregistrer un commentaire