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TIME Magazine mentions fan fiction

Here's a fascinating article from the recent issue of Time magazine (the inauguration issue) for anyone interested in the future of publishing and writing. The article examines the financial crisis facing the book publishing and selling industries, discusses the success of Amazon's Kindle and the Sony Reader and how these devices are changing the way people interact with books, examines Googles plans to scan every book into existence into its database, and discusses the new acceptance of self-publishing.

The article also mentions fan fiction (which the author feels is analogous to Japanese "keitai shosetsu" - novels written, and read, on cell phones.)

Books Gone Wild: The Digital Age Reshapes Literature (1-21-09)
By Lev Grossman

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1873122-1,00.html

Some quotes (the article is quite a bit longer and mentions fanfic several times):

*** Four of the five best-selling novels in Japan in 2007 belonged to an entirely new literary form called keitai shosetsu: novels written, and read, on cell phones. . . . .Cell-phone novels haven't caught on in the U.S.--yet--but we have something analogous: fan fiction, fan-written stories based on fictional worlds and characters borrowed from popular culture--Star Trek, Jane Austen, Twilight, you name it. There's a staggering amount of it online, enough to qualify it as a literary form in its own right.

*** Put these pieces together, and the picture begins to resolve itself: more books, written and read by more people, often for little or no money, circulating in a wild diversity of forms, both physical and electronic, far outside the charmed circle of New York City's entrenched publishing culture. Old Publishing is stately, quality-controlled and relatively expensive. New Publishing is cheap, promiscuous and unconstrained by paper, money or institutional taste. If Old Publishing is, say, a tidy, well-maintained orchard, New Publishing is a riotous jungle: vast and trackless and chaotic, full of exquisite orchids and undiscovered treasures and a hell of a lot of noxious weeds.

*** None of this is good or bad; it just is. The books of the future may not meet all the conventional criteria for literary value that we have today, or any of them. But if that sounds alarming or tragic, go back and sample the righteous zeal with which people despised novels when they first arose. They thought novels were vulgar and immoral. And in a way they were, and that was what was great about them: they shocked and seduced people into new ways of thinking. These books will too.
***

Comments

That's interesting, Cat!

The last 10 years have seen big changes in publishing. I think the big houses in NY are killing themselves off by turning away so many authors and taking forever to get something published. People won't bother to wait around anymore and kowtow to agents and editors. Of course, there will be no money in it, but except for a favored few, there wasn't, anyway.

I do know that in Japan it's encouraged to sell your own copies of doujinshi , their form of fanfic and fanart. It's a good springboard to go professional.
>>>The last 10 years have seen big changes in publishing. I think the big houses in NY are killing themselves off by turning away so many authors and taking forever to get something published.

That's so very true. There are so many stories about authors who went the self-publishing route and then got picked up by a mainline publisher once they had some success. And publishing history is full of stories about a novel being rejected umpteen times and finally becoming a huge hit once someone took a chance on it.

>>>Of course, there will be no money in it, but except for a favored few, there wasn't, anyway.

Isn't that the truth.

>>>I do know that in Japan it's encouraged to sell your own copies of doujinshi , their form of fanfic and fanart. It's a good springboard to go professional.

I've enjoyed reading about Japanese manga conventions where the author/artist of the pro manga will appear along with the doujinshi authors/artists who were inspired by his/her work. What a cool thing that is! I'd love to see more of that mindset in the US.

Speaking of doujinshi, I just posted a link in the kirkspock community to a K/S doujinshi. I have a print copy; it's unfortunately out of print now, but available in its entirety at that site.
I think the big publishing houses suffer from elitism way too much. Get outside of NY!

I think it's great the way pro authors and artists feel about amateurs in Japan. I doubt it'd ever be the same here. Copyright and all that. And some pros have that elitist bent and look down their noses at fans.

Sorry, in a cynical mood tonight! ;)

>>>>I think the big publishing houses suffer from elitism way too much. Get outside of NY!

There are so many other options for authors these days; the big publishing houses are really risking becoming irrelevant.

>>>I think it's great the way pro authors and artists feel about amateurs in Japan. I doubt it'd ever be the same here. Copyright and all that.

I know; I don't see that attitude changing any time soon. They don't seem to "get" that a high level of fan involvement usually means more sales for them.

>>>And some pros have that elitist bent and look down their noses at fans.

Boy, isn't that the truth! I've read a couple of blogposts from SF/fantasy authors (can't think of their names right now) who have gone on diatribes against fanfic. That attitude put me off their work - there's lots of other books and authors to read.
There are so many other options for authors these days; the big publishing houses are really risking becoming irrelevant.

It seems to me that they have a golden opportunity here: if they paid authors a good amount for the on-line fic, they could make profits! Maybe figure out a way to offer the fic free or for very minimal cost to people on the computer or cellphones while still paying authors and having some control and prestige attached. The only thing I don't like about the new publishing is that as usual authors are screwed payment-wise.

I know; I don't see that attitude changing any time soon. They don't seem to "get" that a high level of fan involvement usually means more sales for them.

I'd guess that a lot of authors think fans are like those countries that actually steal their work and don't pay copyright. They don't understand that fanfic authors aren't paid and make no profit, and, yes, encourage new fans to read the paid work!

Though how is that artists can get money at auctions like Media West and it's okay, but writers can't get paid for stories?


>>>And some pros have that elitist bent and look down their noses at fans.

Boy, isn't that the truth! I've read a couple of blogposts from SF/fantasy authors (can't think of their names right now) who have gone on diatribes against fanfic. That attitude put me off their work - there's lots of other books and authors to read.


The literary mind really does have delusions of grandeur sometimes. Not every author is a jerk, but a lot of them are. Just go to any campus and see the snobbery and elitism because they've published a few articles and maybe a book or two. Then they require their books to be course materials so students are forced to buy them!

Academia can be a lovely setting, and yet it can suck big-time with all the pettiness.
>>>It seems to me that they have a golden opportunity here...

I agree. They need to change their business model; otherwise they're never going to survive.

>>>Maybe figure out a way to offer the fic free or for very minimal cost to people on the computer or cellphones while still paying authors and having some control and prestige attached.

There's a lot of ebook publishers out there now; there's at least three people on my flist who have been published via that route. I think we're going to see more and more of that.

>>>I'd guess that a lot of authors think fans are like those countries that actually steal their work and don't pay copyright. They don't understand that fanfic authors aren't paid and make no profit, and, yes, encourage new fans to read the paid work!

Yes, I'm sure there are definitely some with that attitude; they just don't seem to get that when people are enthusiastic about a book or TV show or movie they are much more likely to check out other things by the same author. Can you imagine any of the zillions of people who write Harry Potter fic *not* buying every single book as it came out? Plus action figures and tchotchkes of all kinds. Writing and reading fic in between books kept interest high.

>>>Though how is that artists can get money at auctions like Media West and it's okay, but writers can't get paid for stories?

I think original art falls in a different category. I really don't know the answer to that question, but living in LA like I do, I'm always seeing street artists selling paintings, drawings, etc. of celebrities, and I'm sure most of that type of artwork isn't official merchandise. Hmm, thinking Andy Warhol and Marilyn Monroe right now.

>>>Just go to any campus and see the snobbery and elitism because they've published a few articles and maybe a book or two.

Isn't that the truth! But LOL, I once took a writing course from a teacher, who got all bent out of shape that I'd been published more times than he had. (I made a few professional sales in my 20s; a few more than he had, it appeared.)

>>>Academia can be a lovely setting, and yet it can suck big-time with all the pettiness.

God yes. There are so much of that nose-in-the-air "I'm better than you are" because they can write academese. Some of that is such smoke and mirrors. An elementary school teacher friend of mine was taking a course to keep her credential current, and she showed me one of the articles she had to read. It was 15 pages of charts and graphs and dense, nearly impenetrable language which basically said, children learn more quickly when they're actually interested in the subject than if they're bored by it. I guess it's OK to state the obvious if you cloak it with enough BS.
>>>Just go to any campus and see the snobbery and elitism because they've published a few articles and maybe a book or two.

Isn't that the truth! But LOL, I once took a writing course from a teacher, who got all bent out of shape that I'd been published more times than he had. (I made a few professional sales in my 20s; a few more than he had, it appeared.)


Did he flunk you? ;)

>>>Academia can be a lovely setting, and yet it can suck big-time with all the pettiness.

God yes. There are so much of that nose-in-the-air "I'm better than you are" because they can write academese. Some of that is such smoke and mirrors. An elementary school teacher friend of mine was taking a course to keep her credential current, and she showed me one of the articles she had to read. It was 15 pages of charts and graphs and dense, nearly impenetrable language which basically said, children learn more quickly when they're actually interested in the subject than if they're bored by it. I guess it's OK to state the obvious if you cloak it with enough BS.


It amazes me how niche academia can be. They take things from, say, Moby Dick, and spin out this entire book on some element of the novel that is really out there. I highly doubt that Herman Melville thought of even 75% of the themes and 'readings' that these profs think he did. Like a lot of authors in the 19th century writing what we consider classics today, they were writing for money! I'm sure they had themes in mind, but would probably laugh at all the 'interpretations' academics come up with. Oh, well, gotta save their phoney baloney jobs. ;)
>>>Did he flunk you? ;)

LOL - no. But he sure was peevish about it.

>>>It amazes me how niche academia can be. They take things from, say, Moby Dick, and spin out this entire book on some element of the novel that is really out there.

Isn't that the truth! There's a whole cottage industry of that sort of thing for Shakespeare. Personally, I love this sort of thing, applied fannishly, but I'm well aware that we're doing the "angels dancing on the head of a pin" type of analysis that speaks to our own perceptions far more than it does to author (or artist) intent.
I think we're going to see a lot more ebook publishing. Also print-on-demand is getting bigger. I know several people who have gone one or the other of those routes.