Kim Goldberg / Back to the Future: The Return of DIY Publishing

Dale Peck slams big publishers and Amazon, calls on authors to form collectives to control the production and sale of their creative output… reminiscent of Vancouver’s vibrant indy press scene nearly half a century earlier.

In The George Stanley Issue of TCR, Michael Barnholden does a nice job of recounting Vancouver’s turbulent political history during the late 1960s and early 1970s, from Operation Dustpan to the Gastown Riot and Mayor Tom Terrific – and along with it, George Stanley’s connection to it all as a journalist for the Georgia Straight beginning in 1971. It is a role many have forgotten (or never knew) that Stanley held.

Barnholden’s article also recounts the vibrant, politically charged days of Vancouver’s D-I-Y indy press scene for discontented journalists and poets alike – TISH, the early Straight, the breakaway Grape and other such enterprises.

As I sat in my backyard reading Barnholden’s piece (“Winning is Temporary, Friendship is Permanent”), another story – somehow related in my mind – was going viral throughout the Twitterverse and online discussion forums of disgruntled income-challenged authors. That article is Dale Peck’s op-ed in The Daily Beast calling on writers everywhere to stand up against the hegemony of big publishers and Amazon and to form their own publishing collectives and online portals for direct dissemination and sale of their works to readers.

“It’s time writers thought of themselves as an army rather than a city under siege,” Peck argues. “It’s time we valued our writing not just for its aesthetic accomplishment, its moral or political weight, but as work, as part of the myriad of activities necessary to build the physical and intellectual infrastructure of society.”

So as neoliberal globalization metastasizes into every cranny of our planet, facilitated by the wired universe, and flattening the Arts (or at least their funded institutions) along the way, we now have the ironic counterpoint of an artist/creator backlash using the same wired universe to reclaim control over production and marketing of creative output. Think: TISH on cybersteroids, and you’re getting warm.

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