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Will Readings One Day Be the Writer's Concert?

Neil Gaiman - peoplewhowrite

Neil Gaiman

This weekend, bestselling author Neil Gaiman gave a keynote speech at the London Book Fair’s Digital Minds Conference that entertained the possibility of a world in which writers earn a chunk of their living by touring, the way recording artists do. In his address, which you can read more about on Publishers Weekly, Gaiman mused:

We can imagine a world in which novelists no longer make money from selling books, but clean up from charging for readings. Or, a world where your buy a physical book and that automatically gives you the e-books and audiobook. The truth is, whatever we make up is likely to be right.

Book lovers and author’s fans already pay to attend conferences and events where their favorite authors will be speaking. Would you pay concert ticket prices to attend a reading?


8 responses to “Will Readings One Day Be the Writer's Concert?

  1. TrashBash

    I went to see Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Taiye Selasi the other week both at the southbank center in london. There is something about hearing writers speak – not all but some always have a beautiful way with words off the page. Its mesmerising and exciting to listen and be in their presence. However I don’t know if i’d pay concert prices to hear them read. £15 is probably the most i’d pay to be honest, even if it was someone amazing (for me) like Stephen King or Terry Prachett. I just don’t think I could do it when the only difference they’ll be bringing outside of their books is a thought about a question posed by the MC or the audience, whereas at a concert, the atmosphere is different, listening to music on a computer or on the radio (good or bad) is going to conjour up different emotions to watching and seeing it played live. Its just not the same. Paying more to hear a writer talk endlessly about things he/she has probably answered in other print interviews? nope. Unless an added bonus of a writers workshop or some other incentive was involved.

    • Thanks for your comment! I also recently saw Taiye Selasi read and she was delicious – magnetic personality. I think you raise a great point about what writers will need to add to the reading experience. It’s something we need to explore for sure. Just as recording artists create massive stage productions involving dance, multimedia, and other bonus content, writers will have to figure out how to bring something new to the in-person event. What would you like to see a writer do in-person? Would a writers-workshop be worth the price of entry? Would it be cool with just one writer, or would you be into a line-up of literary stars a ls a concert – opening acts and headliners?

      • TrashBash

        I think all of the above. Like the event Mr Gaiman was at – it was part of a bigger event, so early bird tickets probably would have seen a package style deal to see him and other writers/authors. It would be more like a comic con or networking event. I went to the London comedy film festival womens day and throughout the day British comedians were giving talks and films were shown. Ticket prices reflected that. There just has to be more interaction and more to gain if they ever decide to charge such prices for Authors doing readings. I would pay if I knew I was going to get a preview of a new book from various authors, I would go if there was a chance to acquire an e-book early than those who hadn’t been to the event. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes just seeing your favourite author speak is enough, I get it – I mean, I question the prices for some musical concerts these days anyway – but I would like to think that writer events would aim to feed the mind beyond seeing someone give a talk and have us pay £55 to £200 to hear it. I love this blog btw.

      • thanks, TrashBash! digging your blog too. first of all, “pillowtalk” is one of my favorite films!! and i just started watching “cool it now.” lol. thanks for the flashback.

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