A writer acquaintance of mine recently went on a rant about the number of "books" that are published annually. One comment came from Bob Mayer and he stated the case perfectly. We must deal with the market as it is, not as we wish it to be.
Businesses must be fluid and react to a changing marketplace in order to suceed and survive. And, like or not, the moment writers accept any kind of payment for their work, they are in business. Look at Marshall Field's and Selfridge's. They gave their customers what they wanted. Well, writers. That's what we must do and what is wanted today is content and plenty of it.
In this age of instant gratification, readers are one click away from new material. They polish off a short story in thirty minutes. If they don't like what they are reading, they don't bother to finish it. They merely click to something else. Asking them to wait while you craft your next novel is being unrealistic.
Three forces are at work in today's marketplace:
1."Books" aren't just books. Any title with an assigned ISBN, everything from college essays to short stories to reference works, is included in the count. Thanks to e-publishing, anyone can publish anything. In today's world, writing and publishing go hand-in-hand. Is some of that work of dubious quality? Of course. Just as it is in any business.
2. Riches and fame are part of the writer mystic. Can I blame people for wanting some of that for themselves? Reality will set in eventually. Business is hard work and that includes the writing business.
3. A writing instructor once said that everyone has at least one story to tell. Once told, the author may not care what happens after that. Nevertheless, one story per person is a lot of "books" and all of them are just a click away.
Are there too many "books?" Undoubtedly. Do many of them need editing and rewriting? Absolutely. But I cannot tell people not to write or publish their work; I cannot silence their voices. They must find their own way in the same jungle all writers currently inhabit.
Electronic publishing has been around for nearly twenty years. It's here to stay and I, for one, am happy to be a part of it. I just wonder what's coming next.