SAID HANRAHAN "We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, In accents most forlorn, Outside the church, ere Mass began, One frosty Sunday morn. The congregation stood about, Coat-collars to the ears, And talked of stock, and crops, and drought, As it had done for years. "It's looking crook," said Daniel Croke; "Bedad, it's cruke, me lad, For never since the banks went broke Has seasons been so bad." "It's dry, all right," said young O'Neil, With which astute remark He squatted down upon his heel And chewed a piece of bark. And so around the chorus ran "It's keepin' dry, no doubt." "We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out."
The above is an excerpt from ‘Said Hanrahan’, by Australian poet John O’Brien. You can find the whole thing (and the rest of the book it came from, Around the Boree Log and other Verses) here.
So why am I quoting poetry, you ask? Well, you see last weekend, I was flipping through the paper and I came across a piece in which the writer was bemoaning the agony of leaving books in bookstores. Just like puppies at the pet store, he wanted to take them all home and he worried that the rejected ones would feel sad and abandoned once he left.
So far so good. I’m sure we’ve all felt like that.
But then he went on to talk about the vast quantities of books, both e-books and paper, flooding the market now and how it was impossible to keep up with them and to choose from so many and people were self-publishing and you couldn’t tell whether they were any good and… stuff like that. My eyes started to glaze over and I lost the will to keep reading. I may have even made a rude noise.
Because I’m tired of hearing it.
Not just this particular piece of doom and gloom about publishing, but all of it. It seems, no matter where I look these days, blogs, papers, online columns, wherever, if the subject is books or publishing, someone wants to tell me the sky is falling. Bookshops are closing, publishing is dead, quality is history, the gatekeepers are lost, physical books will soon be no more, art is pandering to the lowest common denominator, literature is going to hell in a handbasket, yada, yada, yada.
You know what?
I DON’T BELIEVE IT.