That’s right. As if I don’t have enough campaigns going on in my life (one to see Nokia go bankrupt, one to conquer the stupidity of Quaker Oats, one against the world in general), I’m starting another: To get proper eBooks on the iPhone, to get eBooks on sale at the iTunes Store, and to have eBooks priced at 99-cents!
Until recently when Steven P. Jobs of Apple sold his collection, he reportedly had an “inexhaustible interest” in the books of William Blake — the mad visionary 18th-century mystic poet and artist. Perhaps future historians will track down Mr. Jobs’s Blake library to trace the inspiration for Pixar and the grail-like appeal of the iPhone.
Brother Writer Blake?
I can quote him directly from my LifeDrive’s Memos:
He’s a Blockhead who wants a proof of what he can’t perceive
And he’s a Fool who tries to make such a Blockhead believe
— William Blake
Is this a holy thing to see,
In a rich and beautiful land,
Babes reduced to misery,
Fed with cold and usurous hand?
— William Blake
Come on, Steve! You’re supposed to be a visionary and a leader! We need inexpensive eBooks! We need eBooks brought to the world with the style, elegance, and grace that only Apple can give them.
eBooks should be as much as an impulse buy as Apple has made music. How great would it be if my mention of a writer in this blog caused someone’s curiosity to swell and they ventured to risk a measly 99-cents on an eBook by that writer? It be Great Great, is what it would be. Because I know they’d get hooked on that writer and buy everything he or she has written.
I could look forward to John Straley getting the sales and recognition that he deserves. I could look forward to Tito Perdue‘s Lee becoming the huge cult book it deserves to be (instead of the small cult book it currently is). I could look forward to Victor Gischler‘s celebratory barbecue for his iTunes Store sales.
I could look forward to a real future for writers, ending the kind of misery my brothers and sisters have had to endure under the heels of the Burghers:
In my late twenties and early thirties, I went through a period of several years when everything I touched turned to failure. My marriage ended in divorce, my work as a writer foundered, and I was overwhelmed by money problems. I’m not just talking about an occasional shortfall or some periodic belt tightenings — but a constant, grinding, almost suffocating lack of money that poisoned my soul and kept me in a state of never-ending panic.
There was no one to blame but myself. My relationship to money had always been flawed, enigmatic, full of contradictory impulses, and now I was paying the price for refusing to take a clear-cut stand on the matter. All along, my only ambition had been to write. I had known that as early as sixteen or seventeen years old, and I had never deluded myself into thinking I could make a living at it. Becoming a writer is not a “career decision” like becoming a doctor or a policeman. You don’t choose it so much as get chosen, and once you accept the fact that you’re not fit for anything else, you have to be prepared to walk a long, hard road for the rest of your days. Unless you turn out to be a favorite of the gods (and woe to the man who hanks on that), your work will never bring in enough to support you, and if you mean to have a roof over your head and not starve to death, you must resign yourself to doing other work to pay the bills. I understood all that, I was prepared for it, I had no complaints. In that respect, I was immensely lucky. I didn’t particularly want anything in the way of material goods, and the prospect of being poor didn’t frighten me. All I wanted was a chance to do the work I felt I had it in me to do.
Most writers lead double lives. They earn good money at legitimate professions and carve out time for their writing as best they can: early in the morning, late at night, weekends, vacations. William Carlos Williams and Louis-Ferdinand Céline were doctors. Wallace Stevens worked for an insurance company. T. S. Eliot was a banker, then a publisher. Among my own acquaintances, the French poet Jacques Dupin is co-director of an art gallery in Paris. William Bronk, the American poet, managed his family’s coal and lumber business in upstate New York for over forty years. Don DeLillo, Peter Carey, Salman Rushdie, and Elmore Leonard all worked for long stretches in advertising. Other writers teach. That is probably the most common solution today, and with every major university and Podunk college offering so-called creative writing courses, novelists and poets are continually scratching and scrambling to land themselves a spot. Who can blame them? The salaries might not be big, but the work is steady and the hours are good.
My problem was that I had no interest in leading a double life. It’s not that I wasn’t willing to work, but the idea of punching a clock at some nine-to-five job left me cold, utterly devoid of enthusiasm. I was in my early twenties, and I felt too young to settle down, too full of other plans to waste my time earning more money than I either wanted or needed. As far as finances went, I just wanted to get by. Life was cheap in those days, and with no responsibility for anyone but myself, I figured I could scrape along on an annual income of roughly three thousand dollars.
– Hand to Mouth: A Chronicle of Early Failure by Paul Auster; pgs. 3-5; Copyright © 1976, 1977, 1978, 1982, 1997 by Paul Auster
Steve Jobs: The Next Revolution Must Be Literate! Lead it!
Previously in this blog:
eBooks On iPhone: The Clamor Continues!
eBookery For iPhone?
eBooks on iPhone: Another Person Who Won’t Wait For Apple
eBooks On iPhone: Not Waiting For Apple!
iPhone: First eBook On It?
Mucho Namaste To FSJ!
Will Apple Steal The eBook Limelight From Sony And Create Another Mass Market?