Margaret Atwood delivered this funny, insightful keynote at the O’Reilly TOC conference that just wrapped up a few weeks ago. Normally I post links to videos like this, but Atwood’s delivery (and her humour) make this worth watching in its entirety.
Atwood offers no answers to the problems of publishing. But she does paint a clear picture of the tensions that many authors face in today’s publishing industry (traditionally published or otherwise). My favourite part is this bit (at 8:32) about a dead moose and a dead author:
… helpful industry hint: never eliminate your primary source. This is an example from biology. It is a dead moose. Every dead moose maintains the food chain for at least thirty other life-forms. I’ve drawn here only a few of them.
This is a dead author.
The author is a primary source. Everything else in the world of publishing depends on authors. They don’t have to be dead, but dead ones are particularly lucrative.
It gets better. Go watch it.