We live in a digital era today. We have come to the point when our lives would be unimaginable without internet. We are relying on it so much these days that our dependence sometimes borders addiction. However, internet is slowly merging itself into our lives. It has come to affect every aspect of modern living. Therefore, of all the things internet is influencing today, what impact does it have on modern literature? Moreover, did internet kill literature?
With internet, a feeling of availability prevails. And to a certain extent, it is true – some fifteen years ago, it would have been impossible to write a book today and publish it tomorrow. Or to desire to read a bestseller and have it on your Kindle immediately. Furthermore, digital era brought about many changes in the publishing industry and the largest of them being the phenomenon of self-publishing.
Looking backwards at the beginnings of the publishing industry, we can see that it was the novel which started it all. Therefore it was the novel that created mass-markets. For example, Daniel Defoe with his Robinson Crusoe, considered to be the first English novel, was a middle-class writer. He cared little about the tradition and antiquity, hence what he did was considered novelty at the time – he popularized ordinary man. From that moment onwards, the novel spreads and evolves into numerous sub-genres and is today the most prominent form of writing.
In addition, another example from history, a century later and a continent away, would be Samuel Langhorne Clemens, or more widely known as Mark Twain. Likewise, Twain fought against established literary standards and witnessed changes in publishing in the 19th century. “Seeking mass-market audience, lecturing from coast to coast, founding his own publishing house and using door-to-door salesmen to sell books, Twain turned himself into a media personality. Attacking aristocratic literary conventions, he explored new forms of fiction and tried to broaden its appeal to the general public.” Therefore, Twain is considered to be a first literary celebrity of his age.
“While the dramatist wrote for the stage, the essayist for the editor and the poet for a small literary elite, the novelist wrote for his publisher.” Today, there are little restrictions as to whom, or what an author can write. In addition, immense rise of internet sales and distribution channels, begun by Amazon.com, dramatically changed the way print books were sold to consumers. However, it all started with the writers themselves. Being a traditional author is very hard. Furthermore, writing a book is an exhausting process in itself, finishing a book might feel like a catharsis. However real struggles begin only then, finding an agent and an editor, who would polish a book to perfection, then sending your manuscript to various publishing agencies in hopes of being picked up. Months, even years might pass before a merciful literary agent...