On the rise of literary self-publishing

Interesting questions by Rick Archbold in the Literary Review of Canada:

‘[W]ill any of these future literary creations be works that last? The digital world has two cankers that constantly gnaw away at all notions of permanence: fragmentation and endless revisability. The former of these is our daily lament about our wired world: too much information, too many content providers, not enough time to begin to absorb any of it. The latter is less discussed. Yet the instant and infinite revisability of virtual text means that authors can continuously “improve” their work, perhaps in response to criticism, perhaps simply because writers are never truly ready to part with their creations. The notion of a definitive edition of an enduring work may soon disappear.

Is the rise of literary self-publishing the beginning of the death of literature, of works that become part of a culture’s DNA and pass from generation to generation? When the nextStone Angel or Fifth Business is published, how many of us will even know it exists? Will any of the fine novels now being brought into the world be read a hundred years from now?’