Tuesday, February 2, 2010
If Print is Dead, Who Owns the Stories?
Well, Anasi the Spider owns the stories of course. He won them from Nyame, the Sky-God.
Last Saturday morning, I took the boys to a puppet show featuring Anansi , and they both belly-laughed throughout.
But really, who "owns" a story?
As a writer of a certain stripe, I'd love to say I own my stories (which I do, kind of), but as any good writer I hope some of them outlive me. Life is pretty transient. It's far too easy to die.
I've learned a few things from studying literature for the past seventeen years and teaching for eleven of those: telling stories is part of what it means to be human. People have done it since before the cave artists rendered "the big hunt" on the walls of their subterranean homes. In light of that history, who am I to be brazen enough to say I own anything?
There's a big bout o' digital fisticuffs between Amazon and Macmillan right now...some argument over ebook prices...basically how much do they charge folks for the ability to read stories. This is important, I'm sure, to many authors. (I'd be right pissed at both a store and my publisher if they were so juvenile as to prevent folks from having access to my work because they were disagreeing on how much money each would make from my work...whew. As if anyone is being denied access to my work. Have I mentioned free stuff at my website? Huh?) I'm glad I'm not trying to make a living on writing any time soon (if ever). And I think this particular deal isn't going to help foster the ebook revolution. I'm just not going to pay 15 bucks for a digital document...not until the author sees at least 75% of the profit.
Can we really take a step backwards?
All I want right now, truthfully, is to share my work. And, if it isn't too selfish, I'd like readers to know I had something to do with it. Pretty narcissistic, sure, but nobody said I was a nice guy.
Except Alan W. Davidson. He kind of implied it with this: