Coinciding brilliantly with our post yesterday on the nagging uncertainty of making a career in future media, world-renowned best selling author Neil Gaiman said pretty much exactly the same thing in a keynote address at the London Book Fair which urged everyone to just try new shit (we’re paraphrasing) to find what works:
Going against a column yesterday in which Booksellers Association chief executive Tim Godfray argued that Amazon was the “foe”, and has “the ability to destroy the book trade as we know it”, Gaiman believes that “Amazon, Google and all of those things probably aren’t the enemy. The enemy right now is simply refusing to understand that the world is changing”.
The novelist went on to urge the assembled publishers to be more like dandelions – an analogy he stole, he said, from Cory Doctorow.
“Mammals spend an awful lot of energy on infants, on children, they spend nine months of our lives gestating, and then they get two decades of attention from us, because we’re putting all of our attention into this one thing we want to grow. Dandelions on the other hand will have thousands of seeds and they let them go where they like, they don’t really care. They will let go of 1,000 seeds, and 100 of them will sprout,” Gaiman told the Guardian.
“And I was really using that analogy for today, saying the whole point of a digital frontier right now is that it’s a frontier, all the old rules are falling apart. Anyone who tells you they know what’s coming, what things will be like in 10 years’ time, is simply lying to you. None of the experts know – nobody knows, which is great.
“Try everything,” Gaiman continued. “Make mistakes. Surprise ourselves. Try anything else. Fail. Fail better. And succeed in ways we never would have imagined a year or a week ago.”
So yeah. To quote my cousin Angus, “I feel old, wise and free.”
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.