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The Readers Are Dead

In his latest editorial for Ticonderoga Online ticonlivefeed, Russell Farr* (punkrocker1991) writes, "The most important people get the ghetto-side welcome to the cheap seats treatment. The most important people — and I know I'm going to get hate mail for saying this — aren't the editors, artists or even the writers; they're the everyday punters, the readers."

It's an old complaint, but, it might be worth pointing out, it's not one isolated to the Australian Speculative Fiction scene.

The independent Arts, to use a broad term to encompass a bunch of creative forms, has for a long time now had a more active participation by those who want to perform, than those who want to simply enjoy. When I say independent here, I want you to understand that I mean the work that skates under the big corporate publishers and distributors and well known galleries. I'm talking about the places where a lot of artists get their start. The place I am. The place, if you're reading this blog, you might be. A place where we cross that line between creator and consumer regularly, and that, in the eyes of many of the full time creators, we are probably just another part of their audience.

It's a big world this Independent World. Show up to a gig of an independent band, talk to someone in the audience, and you'll find that there's a good chance that they have a band; or were in a band; or are trying to get their band back up and running. Seen those people with the camera equipment who work through the crowd to get good shots of the band playing? Chances are they're going to send their pictures into one of the free street magazines to get some publishing credits, or put them in their portfolio to work up for a paying gig. Maybe there's a mixer in the crowd. Someone who works on one of the community radio stations. Say you walk out of this gig at the end, and you end up in a small gallery, you know the type, the one on the corner where a lot of people pass, but you see one or two in there. How many of them are artists just starting out? How many of them painted once, want to paint again, when they get that time, and so on and so forth. Say you walk out of that gallery. Maybe you're thrown out because you told the gallery manager that her show was boring. You should have used that word bland. Fuck. Anyhow, you end up at a book launch, a small independent book launch where you've never heard the writer of before, and there's maybe twenty people in it... guess how many of them are writers?

And I'm not even going to talk about those people in the film scene.

I don't know if this has always been the case. I've not always been around on a writing scene. I do know that it appears that the readers that Farr refers to are getting older. As a whole, there doesn't seem to be a strong influx of younger readers, but this could be related to the change in speculative fiction. It's not difficult to find a fantasy novel or a science fiction novel nowadays. Walk into a store and there's a whole section. I understand that it wasn't always that way--that to find a lot of the work, you had to be part of circles that existed outside the mainstream book chain, and this, of course, lead you into the independent presses, or at least the short fiction market, which is, in many ways, one huge independent scene.

What Farr misses, however, in his editorial, is that it is common practice for people who are fans of something to participate in it, and that goes a way to explaining this creator vs reader/listener/watcher ratio. How many people watching the World Cup in the last few weeks have gone out and played a game of soccer? Or bought a ball and kicked it round? Sport is one of those really easy things to emulate, because all it takes is a bunch of your friends, a bit of spare time, and suddenly you're realising how painfully unfit you are. During the cricket season you can see families go out in the park round my place and play. It's all good. A bit of fun. No one expects to be professional. In the Arts, however, this sort of participation--you love reading it so much you try to write it--has no space for the backyard participation, the time with your mates, unless it is within the independent scene.

A lot of the Australian independent scene will not like being called hobbiests, but for the majority of them, that is what they are. They lack the basic skills, the basic time, and the basic money, to take it up to a professional level. The independent scene here will always, therefor, be part of the audience for professional authors, and will always have an element of your mates in the backyard kicking the ball round. Which also goes some way to explain why it is that a portion of the publications and music and art produced in any independent scene is absolutely rubbish, and not worth your time and money, because it is produced by amateurs whose intention is to go out, give it a go, have a good time, and that's about it.

There is nothing wrong with this, and I don't want everyone in every independent scene to turn round and say I'm accusing them of being hobbiests, and of not having the skill or dedication to raise beyond that, because it's more than obvious that there are people who do. Some of them will get there. Some will not. Nothing comes with a guarantee. But when Farr asks where all the pure readers have gone, where those who only read for readings sake are, I tend to think that these days, in independent scenes across the world, those people who are there for love, but don't wish to participate... those people are no longer a huge portion of the audience buying the work.

And of course, one point remains to be made, and that is why should more readers come to the independent scene? In the same issue of Ticonderoga, Farr reviews the anthology Robots and Time, edited by Robert Stephenson and Shane J. Cummings. He makes the point, early on, of pointing out how he bought a copy of the book, despite the fact that the "book did suffer problems in the production stage, and the contributors' copy I was shown was a sorry work indeed. This review however is of the fixed edition, which I should also point out that I bought myself, as I think it's important that folk should support Australian indie press and not hang out for freebies." It is true that Farr shows more dedication to the scene that I would to a book that looked dodgy, but in the end his summation of it as a whole, is that "most of the stories come across as half-baked and unpolished. Sparks' time machine story suffers from some simple mathematical errors, McConchie's rambles in a confusing manner to an unsatisfying conclusion, while Catherine Gunson's "The Adelaide Effect" features a remarkable example of research not undertaken (for the record, Perth does have a phenomenon similar to the one described in this story)."

Now I ask you, having read this, why would you buy it? The book is twenty six bucks with postage and handling, so why on earth would you spend that cash on it, when you could go off, and spend your cash elsewhere? Why would a reader who had no dedication to the scene pick this up? But, assuming that they did, why would they come back afterward? Someone like Farr knows enough to navigate the ins and outs of the scene, but if Robots and Time was your first introduction to it, you'd pretty much be going elsewhere at the end of it, or just assume you could do better and make your anthology.

Anyhow, I'm at the end of this post now. Discuss as you will.




* The sign off on the editorial is 'the editors', but Farr has claimed credit for it on his blog.

Comments

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ataxi
Jul. 3rd, 2006 03:44 am (UTC)
I was put in mind of this excerpt of an excerpt extracted by lilysea from a book by Delany on writing:
"So if you're not a writer, consider yourself fortunate...Which is to say: All civilised people write poetry from time to time. Both its reading and its writing are necessary to a civilised mind. But in most cases, we should be civilised enough to keep it - at least the writing part - to ourselves."
i_ate_my_crusts
Jul. 3rd, 2006 03:49 am (UTC)
Now I ask you, having read this, why would you buy it? The book is twenty six bucks with postage and handling, so why on earth would you spend that cash on it, when you could go off, and spend your cash elsewhere? Why would a reader who had no dedication to the scene pick this up? But, assuming that they did, why would they come back afterward? Someone like Farr knows enough to navigate the ins and outs of the scene, but if Robots and Time was your first introduction to it, you'd pretty much be going elsewhere at the end of it, or just assume you could do better and make your anthology.

Thanks. I think ... with reference to my own post around this topic ... that what I wanted as a newbie to the scene was some damn honesty about how good the small press stuff really was.

Don't tell me it's world quality if it isn't. Don't tell me I'll love it if you're saying it out of the side of your mouth.

...and complicating that is the nature of the relationship that many in the scene have with each other. Who in the scene doesn't have an opinion about, say, Rob Stephenson, or Geoff Maloney? (or Ben Peek, for that matter!).
benpeek
Jul. 3rd, 2006 04:06 am (UTC)
...and complicating that is the nature of the relationship that many in the scene have with each other. Who in the scene doesn't have an opinion about, say, Rob Stephenson, or Geoff Maloney? (or Ben Peek, for that matter!).

yeah, the relationships of people can require a bit of learning, as they are everywhere, i guess. but in respect to my own reputation, i'd rather have people speak about me honestly to their own feelings, hate or love or anything inbetween, than to get the nod just because i'm part of the scene.
i_ate_my_crusts
Jul. 3rd, 2006 04:32 am (UTC)
I think my thought was more that ... well, some personalities can seem like you should be careful around them. Whether that's carefully qualifying your opinion, or carefully navigating your own feelings when writing. It was really interesting to read your review of Agog Ripping Reads, in part because there was the acknowledgement that you're not free from the effect that strong personalities can have on how you view a story. I like the candidness, even while I don't think that Geoff necessarily deserves to be called out in public in that way. That speaks, again, to the insularity of the scene -- it's almost as though you expect that your readers will be familiar with Geoff, but ... then you followup by pointing out an example of what makes you say it. It makes me uncomfortable -- I want to acknoeldge the influence, but ..er, I couldn't do it in the manner you do.

That whole thing may be what you mean when you say:

"but in respect to my own reputation, i'd rather have people speak about me honestly to their own feelings, hate or love or anything inbetween, than to get the nod just because i'm part of the scene."

I don't think there's anything I'd say about you that I wouldn't say to your face :). On the other hand, I think your personality *does* affect my reading of your stories. It's not a case of "geez, hate the guy, love his stories", but more "given what I know about Ben, how does this story present?" My knowledge of you, however secondhand or indirect, makes me feel that I have an insight into motivation which I simultaneously know is false and incorrect and has no bearing on the story.

Which is complex. Anyway.
i_ate_my_crusts
Jul. 3rd, 2006 04:36 am (UTC)
(and in case it's not clear, I don't hate you... :P )
benpeek
Jul. 3rd, 2006 06:55 am (UTC)
I like the candidness, even while I don't think that Geoff necessarily deserves to be called out in public in that way.

the whole thing had happened in the public. it was easy for anyone to find, really. i wouldn't had bothered with the link if he had done it privately, or maybe i would have, who knows. but calling geoff a wanker like that is no different to what i would say to his face.

My knowledge of you, however secondhand or indirect, makes me feel that I have an insight into motivation which I simultaneously know is false and incorrect and has no bearing on the story.

how unnecessarily complex :)

anyhow, i knew you didn't hate me. it's easy to spot the people who don't like me, y'know?
jack_ryder
Jul. 3rd, 2006 04:33 am (UTC)
Focus is wrong
You're right - we're looking at this the wrong way. Arts fields now have a much lower cost of entry than they used to and so we now (and have had for awhile) a blurring between fans and practitioners. The active reader tends also to be a writer (esp. if they've read some small press and realise they can do better themselves.) The implication of Farr's editorial that I think you've teased out (and Zara pounced on) is a desire for a return to a more passive kind of fandom, a much clearer distinction between practitioners and wannabees/acolytes which just doesn't exist anymore.

Could it be that the reason a lot of small press magazines and anthologies don't sell, is that they're shite? Writers buy them to support the market that they wish entry into, but pure readers tend to go for something more professional. After all, it's not just a matter of investing money, it's a big time investment as well (I still haven't read books I bought at the last Conflux let alone this one, because the first shit story I come across makes me wonder what else I could be spending my reading time on.)

It would probably be healthier for the Aus SF writing community to accept it as a hobby and just another manifestation of independent art creation.
benpeek
Jul. 3rd, 2006 06:59 am (UTC)
Re: Focus is wrong
Could it be that the reason a lot of small press magazines and anthologies don't sell, is that they're shite?

yeah, it probably is, though that's a judgement call, of course. it surprises me, for example, that something like ASIM has done as well as it has, simply because i think it's an ugly magazine. there's no way i'd pay money for it, just based on how it looks. so, you know, shit is a judgement call.

i think a lot of the local scene would be insulted to be told they were engaging in a hobby.
jack_ryder
Jul. 3rd, 2006 07:24 am (UTC)
Re: Focus is wrong
i think a lot of the local scene would be insulted to be told they were engaging in a hobby.

I must have left out the bit where I don't mind being called a hobbyist, or an amateur. I don't make a living from my writing, and according to the tax office my writing is a hobby.

Yeah, yeah, yeah I made a judgement call - there's good stories amidst the dross in most of the major small pubs, but I'm at the point where I'd prefer Ellen Datlow or Bill and Michele to do my filtering for me.
nihilistic_kid
Jul. 3rd, 2006 04:48 am (UTC)
The problem is that you're conflating "Arts" with SF, which is a form of popular fiction. There's no barrier to simply consuming SF — it's the lingua franca of mass society. Other art forms, especially fine arts (galleries, museums), "indie" music, etc., aren't commercial or mass entertainments.

So if Aus SF is just selling to practitioners and aspirants, and if the small press books look like shit, well then, something is quite wrong. Pretending that local SF is an Art in the way that, say, local fancy cheeses are, will of course only lead to poorly done commercial material, which undermines the whole idea of the small press project in the first place.
benpeek
Jul. 3rd, 2006 06:46 am (UTC)
The problem is that you're conflating "Arts" with SF, which is a form of popular fiction.

yeah, i know. i was trying to skate it round to just be general, but i guess not. ah well.
ex_benpayne119
Jul. 3rd, 2006 08:39 am (UTC)
I dunno, I think small press stuff often skates the line between the two... I wouldn't call a lot of it "high art" but I wouldn't call it "Dan Brown" either...

But you know, it's comparable in terms of alternative music in that it takes a certain knowledge/competence/interest in the form before you discover it... it's a snowball thing where you go "hey, that band was cool and unlike all the other shit I hear" and then someone else says "well if you like them you might like..."

Same with small press, at least in this country... I would suspect (though I don't know) that the percentage of readers who pick them up off bookstore shelves with no prior recommendation, or at least an interest in Australian sf, is quite small compared to those who've travelled the inroads to them...

nihilistic_kid
Jul. 3rd, 2006 12:25 pm (UTC)
The small press is changing a bit. Before desktop publishing and POD, small press meant excellence, while the mainstream houses were about appealing to the lowest common denominator.

Nowadays, increasing numbers of small presses declare their purpose to be a training ground for new writers...and for the editors and publishing themselves. Lord save us from people who want to learn to write in public, and from those who'll charge premium prices to have us witness it!
nihilistic_kid
Jul. 3rd, 2006 12:26 pm (UTC)
...editors and publishers themselves. Sorry 'bout that.
mme_publisher
Jul. 3rd, 2006 04:51 am (UTC)
There is nothing wrong with this, and I don't want everyone in every independent scene to turn round and say I'm accusing them of being hobbiests, and of not having the skill or dedication to raise beyond that, because it's more than obvious that there are people who do. Some of them will get there. Some will not. Nothing comes with a guarantee. But when Farr asks where all the pure readers have gone, where those who only read for readings sake are, I tend to think that these days, in independent scenes across the world, those people who are there for love, but don't wish to participate... those people are no longer a huge portion of the audience buying the work.

I agree. It used to worry me that the audience for Polyphony might be largely made up of writers and editors and other "insiders" in the Spec Fic scene. But, I've been turned down by three distributors who specialize in independent presses. Clearly they don't think there's a big non-writing reader audience out there.

At first, on being turned down, I thought to change my Inaccessible ways...do things that the distributor would want and all that. But then I realized that's not what I just spent four years of my life building.

So, I'm less interested in growing than I am in continuing to do books that excite me, even if they have very little commercial potential.

That said, however, I think what a few of us independent presses have shown is that it is possible to do weird stuff and still have very high professional production standards. I read an essay by Gavin Grant last year where he was talking about how to start a small press. He said a lot of people seem to think that low production values are acceptable if you have the right aesthetic vision. Well, says Gavin, you shouldn't do this if your passion stops short of a passion for copy-editing and lay out and cover design and just learning what the hell you're doing. I couldn't agree more. When I started, I didn't even know what I didn't know, but I found people to teach me. And I'm still learning and trying to improve with every book.

Oops. That was a tangent there...the point is...I agree with that paragraph. :)

benpeek
Jul. 3rd, 2006 06:50 am (UTC)
So, I'm less interested in growing than I am in continuing to do books that excite me, even if they have very little commercial potential.

i figure you keep doing what you want, and eventually they'll come to you. better than getting on hand and knee for them and doing something you don't want.
mme_publisher
Jul. 3rd, 2006 06:58 am (UTC)
Yeah, I should've said "...less interested in growing on their terms..."



frogworth
Jul. 3rd, 2006 06:58 am (UTC)
I suppose it's fairly clear that I'm unusual, but I'd like to mention anyway that I am a complete non-writer who is nevertheless a dedicated reader in the sf scene. I do have editing experience (and even qualifications) but not really within the sf scene.

On the other hand, there's no doubt that everything you say about the indie music scene is spot on. I guess my band sortof straddles indie rock and pop, folk, world, jazz and other stuff too, but I go to plenty of indie gigs. At our recent album launches (and no doubt at Melb & Syd this weekend) we had a large proportion of kids though, presumably due to Triple J & community radio airplay. And there's always a large proportion of people coming up afterwards who are musos of one sort or another.

So yeah, I'm sure I'm pretty much an anomaly in the sf scene, and I'd say the analogy holds pretty well...
benpeek
Jul. 3rd, 2006 07:02 am (UTC)
well, we could probably change spots. when it comes to music, i'm purely a listener. i don't even do the camera angle--i take a cheap little digital camera to gigs, mostly for the blog, and personal fun, but otherwise i'm just a pure listener. no musical aspirations at all. i just meet people at gigs like that.

hey, when was your album launch? that totally spazzed me by.
frogworth
Jul. 3rd, 2006 07:13 am (UTC)
Oops, if you really do want to come along it's actually this COMING Saturday, so nothing missed! Sorry, I wasn't very clear in the previous post, but was also a little embarrassed about pimping FourPlay so I sortof sidled over it ;)
So yeah, this Saturday the 8th of July at the Metro, should be a fun night, and to be honest we'd love as many people in the audience as possible!
benpeek
Jul. 3rd, 2006 07:17 am (UTC)
well, i haven't got anything on on the saturday, so i'll try and find a few people, see how it goes.
frogworth
Jul. 3rd, 2006 07:21 am (UTC)
Cool. Come and say hi to the sweaty cellist if so :)
exp_err
Jul. 3rd, 2006 07:19 am (UTC)
I think you're right about many in the scene being hobbyists, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I'm not sure you're right about people who love the work but don't want to participate being a small group, though. It's just that those who don't want to participate by writing are - by and large - the same group who don't want to participate in conventions, book launches and so on, but just to read. My peak years for reading Australian SF were 1991 (the year I discovered Murdoch University's Australian science fiction section and subscribed to Eidolon) to 2000 (the year I started work, met my partner, found myself reading less overall and less Australian SF in particular). By coincidence, I attended my first SF convention in 2000 and started making casual, hobbyist contributions to writing at about the same time. So there was very little overlap between my peak engagement in independent SF as a reader and my peak involvement in the "scene".
benpeek
Jul. 3rd, 2006 07:21 am (UTC)
I'm not sure you're right about people who love the work but don't want to participate being a small group, though. It's just that those who don't want to participate by writing are - by and large - the same group who don't want to participate in conventions, book launches and so on, but just to read.

yeah, there is a point in that, i think.
ex_benpayne119
Jul. 3rd, 2006 08:32 am (UTC)
I agree, I think it's the DIY kind of ethos of small press that encourages audiences to want to interact, the same way that most small press and underground scenes tend to be more interactive than commercial scenes...

I guess also there's a kind of a courage factor too... people who read Agog! (to intentionally pick a high-quality small press publication) are still gonna think "I have a chance of writing something good enough to get into that" where they may be disuaded by submitting a novel to a big publishing house...

So I think to an extent it's not just that the small press attracts writers, it's that it creates them.

Which, as someone who believes people creating things, even shit things, is a good thing, I think is cool...

As for the quality issue, I think there are people who go "nah, not gonna bother reading [insert magazine or anthology you hate here] because it's shit" but I'm also coming to the opinion that there are a lot of people who assume it's shit, but who never actually read it.

One of the themes I picked up from a number of different conversations at Conflux was that a lot of the time there are a lot more people buying mags/anthologies than actually reading them. Now, I don't have a problem with someone buying something they'll never read, if they're doing it out of wanting to support people. You know, whatever makes people feel good is okay.

But what I find interesting is that there is an assumption among some people that they don't read it because they'd rather read something better. Sometimes that's based on past experiences which is fair enough, to some degree. But I think, too, it's based on a cultural cringe factor. The assumption that "good things" are published elsewhere.

I started out this year determined to stop limiting my reading to local stuff, and to read more of the good stuff published elsewhere. And I found, no big surprise, that there's a lot of shit published elsewhere. Not saying there aren't gems, of course, but it's hard work finding them.

All of which I suppose is to say, you know, that now I pretty much think that local stuff is on a par with what's published in the world. Just that the numbers are smaller.

I think I lost the thread somewhere there, but y'know, it's all good...
benpeek
Jul. 3rd, 2006 11:47 am (UTC)
But what I find interesting is that there is an assumption among some people that they don't read it because they'd rather read something better.

that's been going on for years, though.

in truth, it's why i stopped buying locals things. i buy if i plan to read. it's as simple as that nowadays. however, i do have to say, i don't think the quality of the local scene here is up to the standard of the world outside, not even in a quantity ratio. spec fic wise, i don't think australia have produced one novelist since george turner that i've actually wanted to read--and nor do we have the depth to of 'talent' to see the variety of novels that might interest me. short fiction wise, i might agree with you, but i don't think we push as much as we should here. but it's mainly the novelists who are the weakness in this local scene, i think.
ex_benpayne119
Jul. 3rd, 2006 08:30 pm (UTC)
Sorry, should have specified. I was refering to short fiction only.

I do think there are a few really good local novelists, but don't read nearly enough to be able to compare them on a world scale...

bodhichitta0
Jul. 3rd, 2006 02:20 pm (UTC)
I've actually thought about this subject quite a bit. Not in the context of Australian spec fiction, of course, but from the perspective of "what do people read that don't write?" I have (I'm sure) a weird thought about this. See, I've always thought if you read only dreck, you would write dreck. Don't get me wrong, I like my page turners and my entertainment/popcorn books. And I will admit that. But I also like to read outside of that, books I enjoy, and books that are outside my comfort zone. The books I am reading outside my comfort zone, I read for three reasons. 1) I think it is good intellectually to read something you normally wouldn't read 2) I think reading a "step up" from where you are at, helps you become a better author and to find your own voice and 3) I've discovered some real gems by picking up something that isn't in my groove (murakami for one.)

So my thoughts on who reads and doesn't write? I think you have three groups. You have people who love to read, but don't read about writing. They don't really do book discussion groups, they don't read the NYT book review or browse amazon for new releases. They don't review books on their blog. And they don't go to author signings or events. These folks come home from work and read for a couple hours after dinner. They tuck a novel in their purse or briefcase to read at lunch time. They read mysteries, sci fi, romances, whatever the latest "literary book" is on the NYT (or equivalent) bestseller list.

The second group I would consider "insiders" or wannabe insiders. They write or have always dreamed of writing. They read about writing. They get into contests with their friends about who can read the most obscure book. Maybe they have a job in acadamia, editing or are former English majors. They go to book signings, they review at amazon. Maybe they have a blog where they like to talk about books. Maybe they've dabbled, maybe they've entered some contests, but most of all they are very concerned about reading "the correct thing" to fit in with x group. I would think of these people the way you are talking about hobbyists.

The third group I would consider professionals. Whether or not they are supporting themselves with their writing or not. The professionals read for pleasure AND for business and buy books for both reasons. The professionals help form and shape what group one and group two read, by word of mouth, by writing the stories and in some cases, even choosing what gets published.

I've never met a "regular person" who has read certain books. Certain books start with the professionals, move onto the wannabes and then build up enough critical mass to go down to the casual reader.

And just so it's clear, these are purely my thoughts and I am pulling this hiearchy out of my butt from my personal observations of the "literary world."



ex_benpayne119
Jul. 3rd, 2006 08:39 pm (UTC)
Those categories though, bleed into one another to such an extent that they could scarcely be separable. At what point does someone go from being purely a reader to a hobbyist? The first time they put pen to paper? When they buy their first writing book? The first time they "come out" and admit to someone that they do, occasionally, "write"?

*So* many people write. I suspect, sometimes, that when people say "I don't write, I just read", fifty percent are being honest, and fifty percent are saying "I write, but damned if I'm gonna admit it to some stranger in a bar" or "I write, but I've never had the courage to show anyone".

I suspect that the prevalence of "writers" in con and small press circles is less due to the fact that these areas attract a certain type of audeince, and more due to the fact that these circles are a less threatening place to "come out".

bodhichitta0
Jul. 3rd, 2006 10:04 pm (UTC)
I think not only do those categories bleed into each other, I think a lot of people weave in and out of them throughout their lives. This whole thing isn't a linear process, more of a general, fluid grouping.

Yeah, the people who say they write could mean they went through a time when they really wrote, or have a short story in a drawer they never showed anyone or have story ideas all the time but don't act on them. The people who say they do write--well what does that mean? How "serious" are they? Is it a journal or a blog or an essay for the Atlantic? We're sort of trying to define the undefinable. (In addition to the fact, as one of my favorite television characters says, "Everyone lies.")

But as annoyed as I get about some things (like the people who have never written a novel telling me if they could just take a few months off work they could hammer one out because how hard could it be?) I believe it is a universal desire and a universal NEED to write. Writing connects with ourselves and with others. We all have a right to write, so to speak. Now whether we all have the right to be paid for it... well, that's a different matter entirely.
punkrocker1991
Jul. 4th, 2006 12:58 pm (UTC)
I think it's a little unfair bringing my R&T review into a discussion of the editorial. As far as I'm concerned the two are different, almost written by two different people. As a reviewer I have a responsibility to tell it like I see it -- there are more positive reviews out there -- and I'm not about to create a name for myself as a reviewer who automatically gives two thumbs up to any indie press book. However as an editor I am passionate about Australian indie press and will champion it in general as a place doing great things. I balance this through the obligation to review as much Australian indie press that I can, giving it the attention (for better or worse) and bandwidth that it deserves.

Why should more readers come to the Australian indie scene? Because there are some great things happening there, and R&T is more the exception than the rule.
benpeek
Jul. 4th, 2006 02:08 pm (UTC)
I think it's a little unfair bringing my R&T review into a discussion of the editorial. As far as I'm concerned the two are different, almost written by two different people.

yes, but it's obviously not. it's you in both positions, and while you are perfectly capable of having the two opinions and not have them negate each other, they do sit next to each other interestingly. in fact, in many ways, the fact that you are championing the scene is what enables you to write a review that basically says the book isn't very good. though i suspect more people than i would have noticed the two opinions in the one issue.
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