Marketability of Online Literature

Questioning whether art is marketable seems to be taboo in most cases due to the idea of artistic integrity.  But it seems like a valid question especially with the fact that publishing houses are not filtering out the horrendous ideas that some artists come up with after the web became available for artists  to publish their own work independently of outside firms.

In any situation of the development, distribution, and ultimately the consumption of a product, there has to be some form of demand for the a product.  Here the question of whether an online material is marketable comes to the forefront.  Art is a subjective market there is no definitive path to what is considered good.  The television show Dilbert discussed this problem briefly in one of the episodes.  The character Dilbert did market research in an attempt to come up with a rendering of what is considered good; his creation was a silhouette of a duck which was blue.  The image outsold  all other pictures, in the realm of the show.  Because it was mass produced it could be sold at a very competitive price, the distribution channels were viable, and there were gobs of people willing to buy the product, essentially the three main qualifications of a viable product.

Online art has all three of these, the price is competitive, free (for the most part), there is a viable distribution channel, the web, and whether people want to consume the product is completely up to a web surfer.  According to Richard Whittle these are the three qualifications for a viable product.

In a free market the concept of an unseen hand controlling the marketplace is the idea that if there is a market for a product the product will be produced pushing out competitors that might not sell a product that is as good.  An example of this is Fed Ex’s development of Zap Mail, which was essentially a service that faxed documents, but a few months after Fed Ex started this service fax machines became available to the public enabling individuals to do the same thing for a cheaper price.  Fed Ex scrapped the idea, and the market went back to equilibrium.  The unseen hand trimmed the fat from the economy.  The web enables someone to produce, and distribute a product that might not “sell”, due mostly to the in-expensive creation methods and distribution channel.  The web enables everyone to post anything  leading to both good works and bad ones to be published.  There isn’t an unseen hand trimming the fat from the web leading to the abundance of information that we see today, and no way to filter what is good and bad.

As mentioned before publishing houses used to only print books that were thought to sell, if a book didn’t sell it was not re-published.  The web enables products to stay alive long past their life cycle.

Gary Hitchins


~ by garyhitchins on April 5, 2010.

%d bloggers like this: