Wednesday, June 16, 2010

On The Gathering Steam

L. Frank Baum published his classic book, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" in 1900. He had few, if any contemporaries.  Nobody else was publishing older children's stories at that time and, thus, Baum was able to churn out 13 Oz-related stories over the next many years with nary a creative equal.  No one else even had a chance to catch up and try to mimic the fictional world he'd created.  The Chronicles of Narnia, for example, didn't surface for another fifty years.  In a manner of speaking, Baum's Oz franchise had the market cornered on his particular kind of magic.

Today, however, creative markets seem saturated. There is simply so much good music, literature and film. It makes it really hard to cypher out the good from the bad.  In Baum's time, there weren't many others trying to do what he was doing during that period and if there were, the publishing industry was too slow to allow it to happen: entirely based on paper and the printing press.  Advertising and marketing of these commodities, as we know them today, didn't exist yet.  Now we have publishing as very big business, assisted by digital design and layout, advanced retail distribution channels, the ability to buy books online, and now the advent of a much more powerful version of the Internet which brings marketing of books to the grass roots, but on a global spectrum.

You have entire revolutions of content cropping up overnight, pushing non-readers into reading because of their popularity in mass media and in other forms of entertainment.  Look at the Twilight series or the Harry Potter books. There are suddenly a million vampire and young hero/heroine stories with a touch of magic or mythos that all pretty much look and feel exactly like Bella and Edward and Harry and Hermione.  They are less original but some are quite well-written.  And they all ride the wave of the greater trend towards popularity and some level of financial success.  Gads, I've seen some websites that now classify novels in a genre called "Vampire Romance".

The web is good for so many things but it has really sped up the life cycle of creative products.  Trends in fiction don't seem to stabilize for very long before a new one takes its place.  And secondary markets like movies based on the books or products derived from the characters are nearly a requirement to keep the momentum moving.

A hundred and ten years after its publication, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" has created a set of genuine household terms.  We all know the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and Dorothy.  You even know the name of Dorothy's dog without me having to mention it.

My only hope is that, in all of today's noise, bother and lightning-fast trending, the quality content will gather its own steam and become available to everyone who wants to enjoy it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...