Sunday 18 February 2018

Zombie leaders staring at a black hole

Europe's 'bored viceroys' have been making propositions that would seem ridiculous, even to a child, writes Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

I was reading my first eBook last week, the Kindle edition of a novel called Chasing Dragons by Eddie Naughton - a very decent piece of work about heroin and the damage it has done to the old solidarity of the Dublin working class - when it was announced that Amazon is devising a new system of payment based on the number of pages read by Kindle users, rather than the number of books downloaded.

The novelist Hari Kunzru said it "felt like the thin end of the wedge", while the editor and author Peter Maass noted that in a restaurant, you don't only pay for the part of the burger that you eat. And while there are conflicting theories as to how this new concept will work in the fullness of time, given what we know of life in general, there has to be a better-than-even chance that for authors, it will not work well.

For Amazon, no doubt, it will work very well. But for many of the mere writers whose wordage will be up for counting, it feels like someone, somewhere, is actually trying to figure out ways of paying them less. That an Eddie Naughton of the future will not be receiving such lavish royalties, but will be required to give something back to those more fortunate than himself.

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