‘Lies damn lies and statistics.’ Book sales were up last year. You would think that was good news, but should adult dot to dot books really be included? Even when you take those out and look at the rest of the sales it can make for depressing reading.
Whilst there has been much criticism of self-publishing ‘dumbing down’ literature, I fear that the problem runs much deeper. It is a long time since I’ve read a book without a significant number of errors. Even supposed modern classics like The Red Notebook had a record being 33 1/3 inches! (If you don’t immediately know what’s wrong with that then you’re too young to know your vinyl from your cassette.)
I’m not sure whether to be appalled or relieved. As a publisher, I know it is almost inevitable that the odd error will slip through. The reason being that the cost of catching them all is too high compared with the likely return on the publication.
The problem lies with a society that has the attention span of a gnat on caffeine and which expects something for nothing, or at best paid for by hidden means such as advertising.
I’m told that one of the big things for writers is Wattpad where books are posted in instalments and are free to readers. If this is the next big thing, then the thing after that will be the most dreadful standard of written English amongst the following generation as they learn from what they read… and what they are reading is not good!
I’m not against the progression of language and its ongoing simplification; development and change is part of what keeps it alive. However, I do believe that we’re at risk of losing quality fiction because of the lack of interest and respect by the population at large. Is that inevitable in the age of electronics? Does it matter? I think it does.
I set up Alfie Dog Fiction to publish quality short stories for paid download. An author has to earn a living. Giving their work for free does not enable them to do that. By quality I don’t mean literary. Of course we do carry some high class literary fiction, but whatever the genre a reader deserves to be able to read stories which are well written and well crafted. I didn’t set it up because it would make me a millionaire (if you’re counting, it has made me zero so far) I set it up because I believe in it and I believe in the authors whose work we carry.
Five years on from the start of Alfie Dog Fiction I still live in hope that readers will one day come to understand why good quality writing is important in the fast paced, throw away age we inhabit.
Rosemary J Kind
Author / Editor / Publisherby