Sunday, April 20, 2008

Zero Sum (Opinion)

I never was very good at mathematics, which makes some aspects of writing alien romance a bit of a struggle for me.

However, if I understand the concept of Zero Sum, it means that there has to be a winner and a loser. There are only a fixed number of place or units (or sales).

If the book industry were a Zero Sum business, every author would achieve success, fame and fortune at the expense of other authors.

I don't believe this, but I think some people might.

In this last week I've seen fine examples of generosity and support from one author to another, but I've also seen things written that bother me, and issues that I think should interest all book-lovers apparently being shrugged off.

When I was very young, there was a movie (about a trade union) "I'm all right, Jack."

The title reminds me of a saying from a shipwreck context, where a rescued survivor would prefer that everyone still in the water is left to drown. "Pull the ladder up, Jack, I'm on."

Today, the attitude seems to be more, "She's all right... let her fend for herself." But, to mix salt and fresh water metaphors, if we do nothing when the piranhas attack the dolphins, who will help save us from the sharks?

In society and in the book industry there is pressure to compete. Sometimes the pressure is overwhelming. What is more, some contests field cheetahs versus foxes versus flying lizards and fairies. All in the same race.

If it's not apples on apples, it's not Zero Sum.

Rowena Cherry

If you think it is only fair that the government defends the book industry's copyrights with the same vigor that they protect the music and movie industries, please consider signing this petition, set up by former EPIC president, Brenna Lyons.

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