In my youth, books were not always easy to find; now they seem to be assaulting me from every direction. New, old, domestic, imported, print books, e-books, conventionally published, self-published…. This abundance is amazing, but it sometimes feels a bit oppressive.
Even though I have a “no review requests” policy on my blog, I still get hopeful emails from authors asking me to read their new book. There are so many of these out there, looking for readers! And I sincerely hope they will find an audience, but I start to wonder: are there enough readers for all these books? Do we need so many new books? What would happen if, say, we put a hold on publishing for the next year, and just made do with what we have? Or cut the supply by half — or nine-tenths? If we weren’t so overwhelmed with riches, would we value the remainder more?
This is not a serious proposal. I could never say to any particular book or author, “You are the one that has to go!” Even if a book is not for me, I want to leave the possibility open that someday, somehow, it will find the person who needs to read it. To me, infinite possibilities are what reading is all about.
Everybody thinks their story has never been told before, and needs to be told. And it’s true. But how shall we find the time to listen, the space to look? How can we, within our mortal limitations, grapple with all this boundless creativity?
How do you deal with the feeling that there are too many books?