This, too is garnered from PASSIVE VOICE (I love Passive Guy for keeping me abreast of what's going on in my world). This is taken from an article in SALON and summarizes several prognostications. My particular excerpt looks at differences between Europe and the U.S. in how they impact "culture". (I think this relates to quality of books)
"One thing that could have made this story end differently is if the United States had a significant cultural policy. We have a trade policy – we protect industries we value – and we have an anti-trust policy designed to protect consumers. We have arts and humanities endowments that assist institutions. But our cultural policy is mostly to let culture fend for itself in the open market. It works great, but sometimes it doesn’t.
Many counties in Europe have cultural policies, Levine points out. Germany has a thriving book business – with many independent bookstores and a rich mix of publishers – because the government forbids price discounts in most cases.
“If you’re a minister of culture,” Levine says, “it’s your job to further culture. It’s seen as something government should do. If you left it all to the market, almost no one would write anything in Swedish … because it’s such a small market.”
Link to the rest at Salon and thanks to Meryl for the tip."
True, John but (for better or worse) we are not our grandparents.
Well, now I hope you're right, Eric ;). I am encouraged by self-publishing. I've never really understood the either/or discussions raised by self-publishing as it seems like something that can exist along with traditional publishing.
And really, this discussion here is more about what's dominant rather than what exists. Every developed country, even the US, has a mix of public and private investment in education and culture. It's just a matter of degree, which is dictated by necessity. Up until now American culture has never felt itself to be in any danger of disappearing but we're starting to hear those grumblings so then we'll see what kind of protections come into play.
Keeping in mind that we (the U.S.) share the same language with a lot of other countries, the situation is surely never going to get as dire as in , say, France, Sweden, or Germany. I have a difficult time separating cultures for the English-speaking nations of the world. (Though I have to admit I stumbled a tad over a gun-possession issue in a British mystery recently, so maybe there are big cultural differences).
I'm not sure if - or how far - this is relevant, but I saw an interesting factoid recently: in France, downloaded ebooks only account for about 3% of book sales. French reading culture is still about physical books, for the most part. Having said that, the Kindle became available to French customers only relatively recently so it will be interesting to see how that shakes out.
I'm a Brit but I've spent a fair amount of time in France in the last 2 years and it's interesting to me just how much US culture looms large in France. The bookshops are full of translations of Coben, Grisham, Dan Brown etc. And the TV magazines you see in the supermarkets have their front covers dominated by Dr House, CSI, and so on. The French work hard to keep their own culture alive (they used to have quotas for foreign films being shown in French cinemas, I believe; and of course they have the Academie Francaise, which regulates the introduction of foreign words into the language) - but they're also very receptive to US, UK and German imports.
I would say that whatever their cultural policy is, it's probably working for them - a good mix of home-grown and foreign influence. Of course, the French are fiercely patriotic.
While in the UK, we're just America's bitch! (Pardon the phrase)