Books and their authors

Books are different than other art forms. The most surprising thing about them is that there are so many one man books out there. This may be due simply to the fact that it is way easier to write a book than to write a game. At least there are way less regulations. When I first wrote this tiny article I did not realize that the relatively free book market should naturally result in such a great number of books that the individual author would naturally outnumber larger teams.

For any job someone is willing to do, specially if it involves research and creativity, it would be quite better done if one would have help from others. The big problem of books is that they are written by individuals. Games and movies in general do not have this problem. Companies make games and movies. I know that individuals also make movies and games and I also know that company made movies give the credits to a list of individuals involved. That is not the point. The point is that there is a very strong link between books and their authors. Much stronger than that between movies and their authors. There will always be individuals that write books, make games or movies. That is, indeed, very good. The fact is, though, it would be much more natural for us to see an increasing number of company made books just as it happened with other media.

I'll set aside academic and didactic works because in these cases it makes no sense to have a single author and I'll not waste my time discussing it. I'll go straight to fiction works, where it also makes no sense but a great deal of people may disagree.

My point is the following: the creative work of an individual can be greatly improved with the collaboration of other qualified individuals. One may argue that nearly all works do use contributions of others. I know, I know, but I am not talking about people who will type or review the spelling. What I am saying is that creative works can be greatly improved when the author is not an individual, but a group.

Creating a fiction work demands a lot more than a magical inspiration. It demands lots of research on various topics, studying other works past and present, a hard work building and improving each chapter, each line. These are not tasks that are suitable only for individuals.

For decades now, perhaps centuries, the most successful art work are build by companies. I mean Hollywood, Disney, Pixar. We are now used to watch splendid movies and animations - pure art, there's no doubt - that largely supersede their textual counterparts. That's the case, for instance, of Harry Potter, a literary work that inspired a generation. The books are a mere shadow of the movies. We're also not far from the day that Tolkien works will be also a mere shadow of the movies and other works they inspired.

It seems to me that there are simple and petty reasons for books to continue to be written almost exclusively by individuals. The first one is that writing is easy - much easier than building an animation or producing a movie - and individuals simply can do it. The second and sad reason is that people are vain and building a work in group implies recognizing that mine is not the genius that will be stroked.

We are in need of literary work that - like movies, animations and games - take serious advantage of the knowledge and professionalism that large groups and companies can afford. Otherwise a time will come when literature will no longer be among the great form of art of humanity.