It must be like this––unlike in parts of Thailand and the Philippines (and one presumes, less discovered tropical locales spanning the globe), native-style huts are simply too expensive. This is the hippy-borderline-luxe Mayan Riviera, where wealth and backpacker ethos rub shoulders with seeming ease. Where yoga and foraged greens are the currency of the realm, a veritable contagion of enlightenment. I imagine this symbiosis between the forces of commerce and spirituality will last until all the less-developed lots get bought up and remnant wilderness (and affordable camping spots) disappear in a cloud of eco-boutique chic. Or until the Mexican middle class expands to the point where waves of urban tourists bring new sounds and flavors, not necessarily of the quiet sort.
I do my research. Soho has, as of late, been on the bestseller list––a lot. The strategy seems to revolve around offering books by quality authors at a major discount from the majors (at least for the online versions). The publisher**, now distributed by Random House, is also eminently respected. Founded in the late 1980s, Soho is best known for its Soho Crime series, which encompasses series spanning the globe (including F.H. Batacan, the Philippines’ first mystery author). According to The Millions, the press was founded at a time when the majors were no longer publishing writers who “deserved to be heard.” Funny how some things never change.
Naturally, there are as many differences as similarities between the publishing world today and that of 30 years ago. Online publishing has unleashed the floodgates to everyone’s personal Hemingway. For better or worse, there is content as never before to wade through––much of it for free or at that magic 99-cent price point.
This means that traditional writers (read: unsociably deep thinkers) who would otherwise have enriched our common discourse are relegated to the functional jobs that they despise, their souls rent with inchoate longing. This is symptomatic of a deeper ailment, in which consolidation and race-to-the-top remunerative flows have created haves and have nots at the most obscene level in generations.
As the New York Times reports, there has been no healthy disruption benefitting those who actually create the content we rely on for original perspectives. Instead, we sit benumbed by the choices that appear on our smart phones and accept dumbed down, by-the-word versions of the truth. Guess what––90 percent of material accessed through Google searches is created on content farms, where gaining mass eyeballs is the primary goal.
I should not complain too vociferously––this does create a disruptive opportunity for Earth Fabric, as a platform positioned against to all this. Want to change the Internet landscape? Stand for something that benefits creatives financially and creates a virtuous cycle of quality content.
* I admit I have never read a book published by Soho Press––yet I am potentially a Soho Author. Which reminds me of the parable of the writer and the restaurant.
**I am a poor standard-bearer for any entity in the publishing industry. I see publishing houses as forsaking their roles as nurturers of talented writers who might only break through on their 3rd or 4th book. Shareholders of the corporate behemoths the Big 5 publishers have become want profit, yesterday. "Breaking shit" has become code for creating content for less discerning audiences, quickly. Fortunately, there are still a few agents who care about quality. But how long will the wolf survive?
***Am currently cringing my way through Patrick Ness' surprisingly entertaining The Crane Wife (which still has way too many Oprah moments - and by the way, the Decemberists aren't close to the fucking best band on the planet). Naturally, I picked up the book by chance at the El Punto in Tulum.