Published: 2019/04/15, 12:00
I always try to be very clear about something: books nowadays, by themselves, are just production leftovers. Yeah, we have built an industry in order to made them. But, would you be able to publish by your own?
Probably not. It is almost sure you lack of something: you don't seize the machines supposedly needed; you don't enjoy the skills; you don't carry the acknowledge or you don't possess the networking. You don't own anything.
We have reach the production capacity to publish in a couple hours what in the past took centuries. That is amazing… and scary. What are we publishing now? Why are we producing that much? Our reading capacity haven't improve at the same rhythm—maybe we have been losing some of that ability.
We are more people now, but it is a contemporary supposition that each person needs a book. We have public libraries. They used to be a great idea. Now they are one of the few places where people can go and enjoy without paying a penny. The last standing point of a world before its global monetization. And sometimes not even that, because they are behind a wall: paid subscriptions or universities ids; or because most of us prefer coffee shops, public libraries are for poor, creepy and old people, right?
And we are praising books as a holly product of our culture. Even though what we really do is supporting a consumer good. You don't made them, you don't read them: you just buy and put them in a bookshelf. You don't own them, you don't even look what is inside: you just buy and leave them in your Amazon account. You are a consumer and that makes you think yourself as a supporter of our culture.
As publishers we made everything about books: fairs, workshops, meetups, study degrees and marketing. As publishers we want to sell you the next best-seller, the newest book format: “the future of reading.” Even though what we really want is your money. We know you don't read. We know you don't want books that would blow the bubble where you live. We know you just want be entertained. We know you are craving to talk about how much books you have “read.” We just want you to keep buying and buying. Who cares about you.
Before all that shit happened to publishing, books were a rare and difficult product to make. From them we could see the complexity of our world: its means of production, its structure and its struggles. Publishers were kill because they wanted to offer you something really important to read. Now publishers are awarded with trips, grants or fancy dinners. Most publishers aren't a treat anymore. Instead, they are the managers of public debate; i.e., what we can say, think or feel.
Most books nowadays only show how the main bits of our world have been displaced as another good in the marketplace. We see paper, we see ink, we see fonts and we see code. After that first look, we start to realize that our books are mainly a gear of a machinery of global consumption.
Only at this point, we can clearly see the chain of exploitation needed to achieve that kind of productivity. Who or what benefits from it? Authors can't made a living anymore. People involved in books production—printers, proof readers, designers, publishers and so on—barely earn a living wage. A lot of trees and resources have been use for profits.
Again, we have reach the production capacity to publish in a couple hours what in the past took centuries, where did all that wealth go? Not to our pockets, we always have to pay in order to produce or own books.
So, what makes you love books that probably you won't read? If and only if publishing is what it is now and we don't want to change it, well: fuck books.