The Slow Death of the American Author

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April 11, 2013 by Jan Stone

The Slow Death of the American Author

Seeing this Op-Ed title by Scott Turow in the NY Times is a really crappy way for a writer to start the day. Words have value. They hurt despite that silly sticks-and-stones rhyme, but they are also life-altering in the best of ways.

Goodnight Moon, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Did You See, Green Eggs and Ham and Guess How Much I Love You are but a handful of valuable stories told and re-told from the voices our babies trust more than anyone else. Every “where’s the rocking chair…where’s the bunny?” chosen from those pages put children on the path of literacy and give them the keys to any door.

It’s always been my mom mantra―learning to read is the most priceless gift one can give a child, it opens up the world to them. From astronauts to zookeepers, reading offers up the universe of possibilities.  Every Book for Dummies teaches us something we didn’t know. What a wonderful reprieve from a tough day when a Turow novel steals you away, maybe even making you believe you can finish law school. Along with Harry Potter novels, 50 Shades of Grey takes us to where we can’t get on our own.

I can’t imagine a world without the sounds of poets:  Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be and Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Times is still a-flying; they don’t even scratch the surface.

Now the Supreme Court has ruled on exporting books into the US, meaning they are less expensive and writers likely don’t receive royalties. Copyright is less valuable. Turow’s Op-Ed explains it all.

Even one lesson learned from a book can’t be taught elsewhere for $12.95. E-books open up more venues for readers. Yet, every time a book is pirated, a writer who sat for hours to make sure each word made each sentence move forward, and each sentence led clearly into the next paragraph, has lost the little income a hard-earned published piece brings an author.

Writing is not a choice; writers have to write as much as they have to eat and breathe. Writers think of titles in the shower. They see leads out the passenger side window, a scent recalls a forgotten piece of the past. Writing is hard and time-consuming and rarely lucrative, but the real cost of a book is priceless. The world is grey without great writers. They deserve more than this decision for all they give in return.

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