Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

July 21, 2014

Not Comics: Tech Crunch Article That Absolves Of Harming Writers; Blames General Market

A few of you have sent along this article arguing its way through the changes in the book market brought about by the Internet, using the announcement of the Amazon Kindle Unlimited plan as the trigger event for the piece.

I suppose this is where I should have some sort of sweeping proclamation to make. I don't. In fact, this article is a big jumble of arguments barely corralled together by its author. I wouldn't be surprised if more than a few of you wonder two or three times during the piece if arguments being made support or disprove what seems to be its general premise. I know I wondered.

Me, I think the old system was horrible and the new system is likely to be just horrible and maybe even more so in terms of the bottom line of number of artists making a sustainable living. This is a disappointment because it would be nice if a new system could be not horrible. Otherwise, it's like installing dirty carpets.

Unfortunately, we don't put much of a value on anything other than maximized profit at all times for whatever agency or actors can seize it. Admitting that to ourselves doesn't mean the old days were wonderful, because they were horrible, too. It would be nice if we could scale back some of that transformative zeal. I am certain several authors will escape the horrors involved with that kind of increasingly crass and harsh value system. I am also sure most won't. Incomes will continue to go down for a lot of working creators. In response, folks will argue potentialities like they're practicalities, as if all artists can do what Lady Gaga does. And so on.

One thing I worry about in comics is that the recent past has been pretty well served from an arts standpoint by the option of there being a strong relationship of artists to publisher in a way that both entities can sustain themselves economically. If the heart of the sustainable relationship shifts from artist/publisher to artist/audience, I'd worry a bit for the quality of the art created over time. In my view, comics doesn't have the same kind of artistic pedigree in terms of work created that way, and it certainly hasn't done so efficiently. I worry about assigning the role of savior to a system still in development. They rarely look like messiahs once the details gets filled in.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

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