Self-publishing companies may produce books for less than $5, but how much does all this production cost readers? In “So Many Books,” Zaid playfully writes that “if a mass-market paperback costs $10 and takes two hours to read, for a minimum-wage earner the time spent is worth as much as the book.” But for someone earning around $50 to $500 an hour, “the cost of buying and reading the book is $100 to $1,000” — not including the time it takes to find out about the book and track it down.
I think a big part of it is that at some point we started seeing art that didn't really have plots, but which was just several moments of personal revelation strung together, and suddenly everyone felt that their life was art even though nothing had really happened to them.
About would-be writers, André Gide used to say: ‘Découragez! Découragez!’”(discourage!), Zaid said in an e-mail message. “The implication was that real writers would not be discouraged, and the rest would save a lot of time. Of course, some mediocrities are never discouraged, and some potential real writers would be lost. But there is so much talent around that we can afford it.
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