So you want to be a novelist, but you don’t have the time or the ability to actually write a novel, nor do you have the patience required to look for an agent or a publisher. Now there’s an app for that.
Okay, so maybe it isn’t an app, but the idea behind Amazon’s new “Kindle Single” and their self-publishing platform is making it easier than ever to be a writer.
Amazon’s new Kindle Singles are basically 10,000-30,000 word (longer than a magazine article, shorter than a novel) ramblings on pretty much anything you can imagine.
The “singles” offered, range from chapters of (un)finished novels, to essays (on pretty much any topic you can imagine) which are priced anywhere from $0.99-$4.99.
I don’t own a Kindle—nor do I even know what their “book” database looks like—but apparently they even have a section dedicated solely to Kindle Singles.
The allure of a Kindle Single hinges mostly on the short attention span of todays “e-reader”.
While we’re sitting on the subway, or perhaps munching on a day-old bagel in the park, we don’t always have time to sit down and read a novel.
Some might be inclined to say, “capital idea, Amazon! You’ve done it again!” But on closer inspection, this notion of the e-reader may just be another axe-blow into the slowly collapsing world of literature and publishing—not to mention reading.
Perhaps the most mind-boggling part about all this is the self-publishing platform.
According to one article I read (written by Larry Dignan, of zdnet.com—excuse the prestigious name-drop), “If you have an Amazon Account, you can publish a book.”
I stumbled across this line about halfway into the article—as I was doing a bit of research into the Kindle Single world—and the only thing that came to my mind was, “what?”
Apparently, anyone with a half-baked idea for a story, article, thesis, etc. can log onto Amazon.com and get their word published.
Now, it’s being pretty presumptuous to assume that these self-publishers will even be read by anyone, but just to conceive of this notion is, well, inconceivable, to an individual such as myself (English Major, Creative Writing concentration).
“You’ve done it again, Amazon!” You’ve found another way to debase, demean, devaluate (take your pick) the respective worlds of writing, literature and publishing.
Call me old fashioned, but I’ve never been keen on the idea of e-readers.
Granted, as someone with delusions of going into any one of the aforementioned fields, I can’t really afford to be purposefully ignorant to the success and the future of e-readers—but there’s just such an enormous part of me that can’t tolerate what is happening to the world of literature.
From what I understand—which may not account for much—Kindle Singles are the YouTube equivalent to writing and reading.
They are shorter pieces, which don’t always have to be coherent in nature, and can be created by just about anyone.
If this says anything about our society, and our world, it’s that we are quickly moving toward a state of arbitrary advancement.
I for one can’t quite understand the importance of these “advancements”—especially in regards to an ancient art such as writing.
I mean, what has human existence come to, that we can’t read a book on the subway, or visit a library (or bookstore) or have a beautiful shelf packed with the sweet smell of old books?
Sometimes I like to imagine the absurd bookshelves of the future—in Gatsby-esque mansions—where there are just thousands upon thousands of identical e-readers, and on each one a different classic piece of literature.
It’s times like these I wish we could locate the lost city of Atlantis.
Perhaps while we’re digging around among the rubble of futuristic architecture and weaponry (which caused the eventual demise of the mythic city), we’ll come across an e-reader.
Maybe once we realize that the creation of the e-reader was the cause of the downfall of one of the most (supposedly) advanced empires in history, will we understand how evil they really are.
Travis James Lancaster
“Yet stop I did: in fact I often do, and always end much at a loss like this, wondering what to look for; wondering, too, when churches fall completely out of use what we shall turn them into,” Philip Larkin wrote famously in his poem entitled, “Church Going.”
Larkin wrote this poem in 1955 — 56 years ago—and even then, some were starting to notice a growing, or diminishing rather, trend in regards to religion.
It appears that religion is simply not as important in the societies and cultures of today as it has been in the past.
Though it should be noted that Larkin grew up, and spent all of his life in England, it is not difficult to see the prevalence of this trend in the United States.
According to a detailed country-by-country analysis done by David B. Barrett’s religious statistics organization, “non-religious” people make up 16 percent of the world’s population. (This percentage can be found third on the resulting list, behind only Christianity and Islam with 33 percent and 21 percent respectively).
This is not to say that Atheism is sweeping across countries worldwide —“non-religious” also refers to those who are Agnostic, secular humanist, and those who have no religious preference or affiliation.
However, it is becoming quite apparent that this “non-religious” mindset is growing in numbers, especially among those of the younger generations.
So just what is happening to religion? And is it necessarily a good or bad thing that religion is fading from our culture?
Like every cultural system, religion has upsides and downsides.
To some, religion enriches the experiences of life and human existence. To others, life and existence are both rich enough as they are.
And while some may see religion as a set of rules to obey or guidelines to follow for a better life, others may see religion as a long list of restrictions, and in some ways, a hindrance.
There are many differing opinions about religion, but this is not my focus. I’m simply trying to dig into what it is that is causing religion to falter and fade.
Is contemporary religion losing the fire and brimstone allure that captivated the attentions of generations past?
Is it that people just don’t care? Is there a sense of apathy, spreading like a medically resistant spirit infection?
Or is there simply a growing sense of disbelief? Perhaps human kind is coming to an age similar to that of a child who realizes there’s no such thing as Santa Claus (We’ve certainly been around long enough for this to happen).
Larkin continued his poem by writing, “But superstition, like belief, must die, and what remains when disbelief has gone?”
He asks a question that can resonate, not only in the hearts of those fearful for their religions, but in the minds of all who find comfort or happiness in any type of social or cultural tradition.
Where will the world be once disbelief — not only belief — has vanished?
The question begs to be asked: if religion isn’t above extinction what other cultural traditions could disappear along with it?
Could the idea of the possible disappearance of religion be a sign of complete global and cultural homogenization?
In some ways religion, like cultural tradition, helps to keep people together, serving as the adhesive that prevents dangerous rifts.
But perhaps mankind has been dependent upon religion for too long—perhaps some of those who consider themselves “non-religious” have become that way because they believe that religion is an easy answer to the daunting, unanswerable questions posed by human existence.
Philip Larkin compares religion to superstition, which are one and the same to many people.
It’s quite possible that more and more people are beginning to question the “blind faith” that they have come to know as religion.
It’s difficult to say — even to imagine — what a world devoid of religion could look like. It’s not certain whether one will outlive the other.
If I’ve one thought for those of you shrouded in uncertainty, it’s this: perhaps there’s more (or less) to life than we think.