There is a big problem with ebooks. Once all the books in the world have been digitised, there will only be one book. No author, no revenue, except for those who find ways to exploit the power of cut and paste. There will be no reason to write a book again.
Books take time and consideration. Those doing the work need recompense – even if it is only praise and acclaim. There is nothing for the ego in the mashup world of the big ebook.
Look what has happened to music. Because it is so ubiquitous, recorded music has little value anymore. At least musicians have the option of going on tour and making money from live audiences.
You could argue that that is how authors get paid already. Very few make any money from selling books. They live by talking and teaching others how to write books, thus putting themselves further out of business. Technology has not only made books freely available on Amazon, it has both pushed the price down and allowed myriads of middle men to come in and chip away at the profit, making it less and less viable to be an author.
Already we have mash up books written by anonymous committees in anonymous “creative” production houses, promoted with marketing budgets that individual authors would never get spent on their books. This is marketing, not authorship. It’ll be a sad day when that is all that is available – fodder for stupid humans that will have allowed it to happen to them – Soma.
I guess there are a few authors who manage a life on the road, with large audiences all buying signed copies of the book as a souvenir of the gig to put in their collections- not as a book to be read. This is what musicians do now, but an author needs down time for contemplation. If that is taken out of the equation, then all that is produced is pulp. More pulp for the big mashup book in the clouds.
Of course I should declare self-interest in this problem. Will I be able to make any money from my chosen career in a few years time. Something tells me I won’t and that I’d better start looking for new revenue streams.
When I was young, you needed to be a god to even think about starting a band. I had a high opinion of myself! But it was hard to do. There were no mentors, we had to work it out ourselves. Now you can get kitted out at Lidl, learn from the best teachers on youtube and make yourself sound perfect with recording software. The result? Modern music all sounds the same, all overproduced and lacking soul. No wonder all the kids are happily listening to music of my generation. We would have poked our eyes out rather than listen to Doris Day! Music is over. It’s just there and anyone can do it. I don’t see anyone doing anything interesting lyrically these days. Lyrics are a nuisance – they require thought and practice and hard work. Much better to toss off a few lines of greeting card pulp.
Authorship by its very nature, requires time spent thinking, formulating ideas and arguments. It takes a human brain to do this. Machines can churn out stuff that looks like text (humans can do this too!), but you wouldn’t want to read it. The net has to find a way for the individual to be allowed to make money from their ideas and their humanity otherwise the machines win by default, without ever becoming intelligent themselves.