|"Literature is not a profit-making job, but a passion," said Kelly Sánchez, one of the least vitriolic critics. "If you had a real vocation then you wouldn't stop writing."|
Maybe for her, and for her toffee-nosed upper-class friends. For the rest of us down here in the real world, who don't have vast stockpiles of inherited wealth to sponge off, we need some way to support our literary pursuits, to justify the sheer amount of time and effort we invest in our writing.
And piracy isn't just an issue in Spain, it's getting to be a real issue everywhere. With the release of devices like the Kindle, this whole, why purchase when you can download
attitude is taking a hold throughout the literary establishment. Our industry is now in exactly the same state as the music industry was around ten, fifteen years ago, when the first mp3 players started coming on the scene. Plenty of people back then thought that it was a good idea, that the industry would become more accessible as a result.
Instead, what happened? Every high-street music retailer went bust, because people couldn't be bothered to pay for it any more. Virtually all of the music labels couldn't support themselves any more, and either followed suit into oblivion or got swallowed up by the conglomerates- and the conglomerates only cared about their A-list artists, so any real opportunities of breaking through onto the big stage for the next generations just dried up. X-Factor & Britain's Got Talent aside, how many new artists have come to the fore in the last decade? Have there been any at all who've got there on the basis on their talents, or have the privileged few just got there after getting into the tabloids?
People today say that ebooks are a good idea. That they'll revolutionise the industry, that things will be more open, more level, more profitable than they have ever been before. But the lessons of the past are there to learn. If we follow the path, we know where it will lead...