Sunday, August 10, 2014

An Open Letter to Lunacy and Publishing

Dear Amazon (KDP),

Here's the thing. When it comes right down to it, as a corporation, you want money. In order for your organization to survive, individuals must buy product. And in order to move product, you must sell at the lowest price possible that still allows you to attain the greatest revenue (something to do with supply and demand I assume).

Now, I'm no economist, not by any means, but I do know this: you are not trying to take care of your readers as you so valiantly proclaim. Nor are you taking care of the authors who are creating content and publishing on your site. That is ridiculous. No organization the size of Amazon cares for its customers more than itself. That's just business. If any business took more thought for the customer and less for itself, that business would fail, in realizing that the products it created were unnecessary and only adding to the vile disease we call consumerism. We would have to be self-aware of the devastating consequence of its very existence. And we all know that would cause the entire structure of America to disintegrate, and nobody wants that now do they?

So, to put it simply: Amazon, as much as I love the ease of ordering whatever the hell I want from your site, you are not helping book culture in any way.

As a reader, how does Abraham Lincoln: Presidential F*ck Machine, Taken by the T-Rex, and Touched by a Demon further literary culture? That is not to say that the authors of these texts do not have the right to create such atrocities: because they do. And rightfully so. But these texts, amid thousands (perhaps millions) of others just the same make up a large portion of Amazon's list of e-books. Are these your support for furthering literary culture? Poorly written pornography? These are consumable products that do not require readers to experience something outside of themselves. They seek only to please, arouse, sensationalize, and devalue the beauty of language. They offer nothing to the reader but immediate gratification that disappears at book's end. That is not the purpose of art (or the sciences for that matter). Literature, art in general, and science, are meant to linger in the minds of its participants. Objects of creation are meant to be experienced, not consumed. They are meant to stir our consciousness into new thoughts, causing us to question our beliefs, our hopes, our dreams, our perceptions of reality. Literature is supposed to help us better understand human emotion. It is supposed to help foster empathy. Where is empathy in President Lincoln having sex with random women? There is none.

So, in response to ReadersUnite, I say this: hell no, Amazon. Hell. No.

P.S. E-books are the same as paperbacks in WWII? Really?

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Dear Hachette,

I love books. Good books. Books that make me think about my surroundings in ways I had not previously considered. Books that change me forever. It's why I started writing. I wanted to change people. I wanted to show people a piece of the world they may not have experienced, or thought about, or even knew existed. But here's the thing: no one will publish my work. At least not my books. I have had in the last few years about 30 short fiction pieces published. Nothing much, but for an emerging author, it's a good start. I believe wholeheartedly that my fiction is attempting to further literary culture. As do many others. And I know many writers who deserve national and global attention for their formulated beauty. However, my problem begins with companies like you, Hachette. With publishers. Publishers who claim to want to further literary culture and beauty and knowledge, whatever the mantra, and yet are only concerned with money. In the end, publishers are corporations, large entities existing for the purpose of accumulating vast amounts of money (no different than Amazon). That's the new American Dream, apparently. That idea is the exact opposite of literary culture. It is that mentality that has gotten the world to where it is now in 2014. To a place where consumption outweighs necessity. To a place where quality is snubbed for quantity. To a place that reduces art and its creators to "pretty pieces of wasted time." This is bullshit.

I want to be on your side of this, Hachette, I really do. To fight for the author and keep us eating and paid. Except, I don't get paid. But that's beside the point. I can't be on your side, because you are not on my side. No publisher is. That is the true problem. That is what needs to be addressed here.

So, to answer that petition those 909 authors signed: I hope this all falls to pieces

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Dear Authors,

How you doing? Well, I hope. Here's the thing: places like Amazon and Hachette (and all those other corporations wearing the facade of publishers), they don't care about you or your writing or your readers. They never have. It's not in their best interest to care. They are only capable of caring about themselves. It's the nature of the beast. The business must be fed or it will devour itself and there will be nothing left for the peons to eat. Welcome to 2014.

Now, I don't claim to have the answer to any of this. And, to be fair, I probably don't understand even 1% of what is really going on here. I know it's big. I know it's important. I know it could very well change the face of publishing and books as we know them. What I do know is this: we, the unrepresented authors, the over-looked, the ignored, the struggling, we are the victims here in a corporate pissing match. We are being used as fodder for either side's argument in attempt to prove something about publishing and fair wages and a whole list of nonsense I can't seem to follow. I never understand economics.

But my fear is that nothing is going to change for the good. At least not for us. Because none of us are actually being called into the fight. None of us are actually standing up against these companies. We are watching, picking sides, and hoping for the best. Signing petitions on either side won't make a difference. Crying at Amazon for being mean, or telling Hachette they need to suck it, isn't going to help. Emails don't make a difference, they just create more work for these corporations that then makes them angry at each other, and at us, and that will only increase the possibility for explosions. As simply as I can put it, both companies at their cores are evil. Not in the "worshiping Satan and sacrificing virgins over fires" sense of the word, but in the "I'll destroy anyone and anything that gets in my way so I can be better than you" sense of the word.

We are writers. We are creators of beauty, of sorrow, of life; we are empathizers. It is our responsibility (although self-imposed) to expose the world to itself. To tear open reality and examine its nucleus to find out what really makes real real.

The answer is simple, but perhaps not easy. At least it's simple for me. And goes like this:

We, the writers of the world, will no longer be slave to the publisher. We will no longer define our success by the systems of measure we did not help to create. We will no longer support the bank accounts of illiterate business men and women deciding the future of literary culture. We will no longer allow our precious words to be abused by incompetent office workers pushing piles of paper between desks. We will no longer submit our work to publishing house conglomerates. We will no longer waste our time on this idiocracy.

We will no longer publish our work through any means save our own.

To hell with this world. To hell with society. To hell with corporations. And to tell hell with consumerism.

To hell with you Amazon. To hell with you Hachette. To hell with publishing.

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