Imagine you've been sentenced to a year in prison for a crime you didn't commit. Not just prison, but solitary confinement. A box, with a window through which you never look. A window, on the other side of which life goes on as normal. Flowers bloom, wilt, then die. Your friends enjoy life and grow older. But you miss it all stuck in your little box.
Then imagine those twelve months served in total silence. Part of your punishment is to be strapped into a chair, staring at a headache-inducing light for ten hours of your waking being. When your daily chastisement is over, all you want to do is sleep, but you can still see that light. It plagues your dreams and its the first thing you see when you awake, unprepared, but resigned to the fact that you will be strapped into that chair again, and again and again.
There is no early release for good behaviour. You've started your sentence and you have to finish it. Every last day, hour and second.
Sounds pretty shit, doesn't it?
Well, for those of you that have never done it. That's what it's like to write a book. A solitary, silent vacuum in which your brain bleeds as it tries to create, conjure and perfect, attempting to juggle 26 little letters into an original and entertaining order. You spend ten hours writing something that can be read in ten minutes. Like a bridge which took twenty years to build, where ten men lost their lives, and you can drive over it in a minute, not even thinking about the million nuts and bolts which went into its construction, nor the blood, sweat and funerals.
I shy away from this ongoing debate regarding e-readers versus paper books. I find it a little like berating your grandfather for still listening to his gramophone when you bought the old bugger an I-pod for Christmas.
Does it really matter how the media is delivered? After all, it's still made up of the same million nuts and bolts.
And as for price. If an author has slogged his guts out, built his bridge, and wants to let people use it for free, then so be it, that's his choice. Or if that same author wants to install a toll for passage from A to B, start to end, then that, again, is his choice and his alone.
Okay, perhaps it does devalue the bridge, and maybe it does make other bridges look expensive, or their builders greedy. But at the end of the day, the free bridge will attract far more traffic.
The Amazon™ is a mighty, raging river, washing a lot of debris out to the Sea of Obscurity as it goes. And to those who are able to reach the other side safely. Well, I wish you all the luck in the world.
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