I hear or read how sad it is that the publishing industry is collapsing. People resist ereaders. “I stare at a back-lit LED screen enough already.”
There are a few things to remember. The publishing industry has not worked well for a lot of people. It has not worked well for writers who are just starting out. It has not been receptive to writers who write in difficult or unusual styles. It has not been receptive to writers whose subject matter isn’t mainstream or doesn’t invite broad readership. It has not been receptive to writers who write for a minority population in the culture. In an industry dominated by a concern for the bottom line, there isn’t much place for the guy who, from the beginning, never thought his book would sell a lot of copies. In a rich and vibrant culture, many books, which may be very fine books and which may add immeasurably to the depth of the culture, may never sell more than a few copies.
In a culture such as ours in America, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, where publication decisions are usually made on the basis of what is going to sell the largest number of copies, it is the culture of minorities such as ours whose vitality is most in danger. The publisher can’t afford to publish a book which is content to remain in its niche. Yet often the book that is most productive of new ideas or of a new take on old ideas is exactly the one that is not a cross-over book and is content to be sheltered within the community from which it sprang. A book written by a gay author for a gay audience about a gay subject, with no consideration for straight people or straight concerns, is much like a dissent in the Supreme Court. It may not carry the day in the whole culture, but it has been written, and it exists, and it enters the discourse of the whole culture, and, if it is a good book, it exerts its influence, which may grow until it becomes dominant.
According to publishers, the market for gay books has “vanished.” I can’t believe this is because today’s gay people are less intelligent or less interested in good books. This is the result of the publishing industry giving gay people sillier and sillier books so that gay people learn that if they want a serious and hefty book, they needn’t look for it in the gay section of Barnes & Noble.
We—gay people—are being disenfranchised. Publishers are not adding gay books to the culture at the rate our numbers would suggest, and our reading is being censored.
eBooks in ePUB, like my own novels known collectively as the Stonewall Triptych, break through this censorship, give an outlet to gay writers for the publication of their books, and restore to gay people the power of the pen and of the press and restore to us the freedom, which is inherently ours, to choose our reading from all the books that are being written.