Hearing Voices: Reading Response

Peter Brantley’s article, “The New Ones: The Only Horizon Is Before Us” really challenges many of the ideas we’ve been considering this semester. Namely, who should be allowed in, and by extension control, the publishing industry. He does this by introducing readers to a new breed of book creator. His creator is both novelist and reader, involved in book creation from concept to coding.

Brantley offers the idea of welcoming in new perspectives within an industry that seems to be struggling. The article “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter” examines the way diversity makes people more creative and innovative. It forces people to problem solve. Examining the needs of the consumers buying books in addition to the authors conceptualizing them is just one example of how new voices can be heard within the publishing industry. Asking an author what they intended may produce a book or a practise that was previously not considered, but that can contribute to a great product with the only cost being time spent in understanding what the original idea for a book was. This is one example but it can extend to asking independent booksellers what helps books sell instead of creating a book without considering how it will be presented. Ultimately, more voices means more understanding of where books begin and end, creating a fully-formulated image of a book’s life.

Brantley also states that this book creator has no knowledge of “all the stuff that the publishing industry struggles with, their whole workflow and distribution and editing and curation and pricing algorithms and promotions and marketing and even the transmedia experiments of the last decade.” Traditional knowledge would indicate that this person should not be accepted into an industry they know nothing about. But once again, diversity and by extension, novel perspectives, need to be considered if this industry wants to thrive instead of struggle. It’s important to retain the voices of experts on the industry, but perhaps they are unable to see a solution because they are figuratively too close to the issues within the industry. As bowerbird comments, “the bad news, of course, is that if a person is saturated in the web, without a fundamental understanding of the core values of books as their print foundation evolved over the past five hundred years, the electronic-books that you create might well lack some features.” Fresh insight should always be examined, especially when collaboration is possible. Being open to change and being willing to hear new perspectives alongside traditional knowledge is the start of innovation and creativity.

It has always been difficult for the publishing industry to adapt to changes, from bookselling, to marketing, to production. Ultimately, Brantley makes an important point about this industry’s evolution. There is always resistance to new voices, as experience dictates knowledge. However, none of us are sure where this industry is going. Brantley is right when he states that the “horizon is before us.” Experienced voices are necessary, but so are new ones, as we try to navigate a market both online and in print that has never really existed before.

One Reply to “Hearing Voices: Reading Response”

  1. You really find your voice at the end of this piece. The first half of the response is a little muddled. It is hard to see the connection between the response and the article. Although this becomes clear as one reads on, the response could have been structured to better reflect your opinions, as you do much more clearly at the end.

    For what it’s worth, I think you’ve pulled out a useful insight from Brantley’s piece: there is value in new voices and looking forward, but there is much more value in a balanced approach, one that comes through collaboration between an insider and an outsider.

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