Book Bits and the Missing Dollars

I have been following the trend toward free books for a while, and I have gotten used to seeing the regular suspects talking about the loss of book sales and the rise of new ways to earn a living on your words. Imagine my surprise when I saw Paul Krugman add his voice to the chorus:

According to a report in The Times, the buzz at this year’s BookExpo America was all about electronic books. ... we may finally have reached the point at which e-books are about to become a widely used alternative to paper and ink.

That’s certainly my impression after a couple of months’ experience with the device feeding the buzz, the Amazon Kindle. ...

It’s a good enough package that my guess is that digital readers will soon become common, perhaps even the usual way we read books (NYTimes)

Wow, that's going mainstream. Krugman points out that as content goes digital, the easier it is to pirate and the harder it is to monetize. Unfortunately, his op-ed ends with a bleak outlook for the future of the written word.

I don't think it has to be that way. If creative souls (like myself) are going to try to make a living with out art (literary, audio, visual, or video), we are going to have to find a way be proactive, reaching out to find new fans, and doing our best to retain the ones we already have.

While we may be on the cusp of the end of the publishing house, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. As the old industry dies, it is up to artist to create their own co-ops for sharing their wisdom with new artists, and helping their fans find those artists as well.

It is easy to get myopic and think only about our own careers, but we have to remember: A high tide raises all ships. Artists need to link to each other, and carry each others merchandise around with them on consignment. This will help each artist expose their works to more people, and help cultivate a vibrant community of fans that will support the artists.

This might be utopian of me, but if it is, that would be the first time I have ever been accused of that. So here's to a future where the artist controls their own fate!

Government Has a Duty to Teach Its Own Students

Perhaps, responsibility could be returning to the Florida government:

Florida's highest court on Thursday handed public school advocates a decisive victory, striking down a Florida program that gives students taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers to private schools. It was the first time a state Supreme Court has said states have a duty to educate students in public schools (USAToday).

Imagine that, the government has a responsibility to its citizens! I know that in this modern world we like to rid ourselves of as much responsibility as possible, but we have to stand up against the government absolving itself of every reason it has to exist!

Protect us, do not attack the wrong country and outsource military duties to unaccountable private companies. No one should be allowed to profit off war.

Research new medicines stop allowing private companies co-opt the drug that we paid to invent.

Teach our kids, and do not lie to us about the “hidden profit motive” in education! Well educated people are savvy shopper, rarely gullible, and take an interest in the general welfare of their communities, none of which is beneficial to the corporate bottom line. Business will always have an interest in keeping people dumb, ill-informed, and naive! They will teach to whatever test the government requires to show they are doing a good job, and neglect critical thinking skills.

Private schools are fine, but the government has a responsibility to offer a quality alternative to what most private schools offer (ideological indoctrination in the philosophy of the school). Private schools have an interest in creating good followers, not necessarily good citizens.