Books – A Social Good!
I’ve heard and read many opinions on this issue and the most common complaint I hear (especially from the entrenched “big name” authors) is that the self-publishing revolution has “dumbed down” the literary market. They suggest that the poor quality of writing, the poor quality of editing and the poor quality of the finished product destroys the very integrity of the published book. To this I say POPPYCOCK!
- Reading is VITAL to good physical, mental and social development for every single person. and;
- There is no such thing as a BAD book.
Let me illustrate my first point. In this mad, rapidly changing, hectic, fast-paced world, our children are subjected to 90 percent visual stimuli; be it television, video games, computers or just their own observations. Visual stimulation is good, don’t get me wrong, but what it also is, is often passive. It doesn’t usually require, in general terms, our children to think, to imagine and to fantasize, but merely to react. Those functions are exactly what our children need from an early age to stimulate the parts of their brains that deal specifically with creativity.
I consider myself blessed in that I grew up at a time when all this visual stimulation was simply not available. What I learnt about the world, about people, about relationships and about ideas, I learnt from books. I had to use my mind to create the visual images that were written on the page. I am absolutely convinced that it was this early exposure to mental stimuli that made me into the writer I am today.
I am sure we all remember as children how books allowed us to escape our boredom and transport ourselves to exciting, fantasy worlds of adventure and deering-do. It was an absolute joy and a treasure. It does concern me that many of our children are missing out on this amazing opportunity. My one advice to parents on this issue: Next birthday, next Christmas, just for a change give your child a book, instead of the latest game, the latest DVD or the latest subscription to XBox360 or whatever – in thirty years time that child will thank you.
Secondly, my construct that there is no such thing as a BAD book, I’m sure will have many people throwing their hands up in horror – yet I firmly do believe this.
What is a book?
To me, it is a collection of an individual’s ideas, their fantasies, their personal recollections or their perspective on an issue, or on life in general. I hold the belief that everyone’s opinions, ideas, dreams, ambitions, views, etc are not only valid, they are rightfully expressible. If they chose to use the medium of the written word to express them; then, I say, all power to them.
Sure, I may not agree with or in some cases I might totally disagree with what they write, but I do believe it is their inalienable right to do so, and the new publishing landscape now allows them the freedom to do just that. That is a GOOD thing.
The biggest objection made about self-publishing and independent authors is that they have flooded the market with poorly written, under-priced (says the big publishers), atrociously edited and sloppily presented books. There is some truth in that, I won’t deny it; but if as these elite authors contend these books are SO bad, as good free-enterprisers I’m sure they would agree that the market will find them out very quickly, and they will sell very few books – so why worry about them anyway.
What I have found personally is that yes, self-published and especially self-edited books can be full of errors and typos and indeed they can be frustrating, but I’ll use an example of one I read recently to show that it is not necessarily a bad thing.