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OnWords: Print

Many words have been written both in print and online worrying about how we’re writing too many words online and not enough in print.  

Research supports the idea that people read better from pages than from screens, but to blame the internet for the decline in book and periodical sales doesn’t tell the whole story.

The current spate of publishing company mergers and acquisitions began in the 1970s, long before the advent of the World Wide Web. The logic of such mergers is to increase efficiency, which leads to fewer people to champion new authors, and fewer editors to assure quality work.

Plus, large corporations have a low tolerance for loss and a high demand for quick profit, so they are more likely to back blockbusters and less likely to publish good writers who might garner lower sales.

Compounding things, the colleges and universities that were supporting literary journals have faced severe budget cuts. 

The result of all this? Fewer venues for good writing and less good writing in the venues that remain.

So don’t blame the internet; the true villains in the decline of print are those who think good writing is simply not worth investing in.

Lael Ewy is a co-founder and editor of EastWesterly Review, a journal of literary satire at www.postmodernvillage.com, and a writer whose work has appeared in such venues as Denver Quarterly and New Orleans Review and has been anthologized in Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh.