Recently an article came out about self published fantasy writer and obsessive twitterer Amanda Hocking, whose ebooks have made twenty six year old Hocking a self-made millionaire. From Huffington Post:
“Unknown, living paycheck to paycheck in Austin, Minnesota, rejected by publishers all over New York, Amanda Hocking decided to self-publish on ebook platforms only. She sold 100,000 of her works in December, and over 10 months she’s more than 900,000. She’s 26 and is now making enough money to quit her day job and become a full time writer”
I can relate to Amanda. She has a passion and she does what she loves, works her butt off, and makes it happen. That’s how PunkTorah happened. Press have been treating her like an overnight success, but in reality, she has been writing and attempting to get published for over ten years. That’s a pretty long “night”!
The PunkTorah community spends a lot of time speculating about the future of DIY Judaism. And although the trends are swaying on our direction, the reality of the Big Jewish Movements is that they are still strong. Murderously strong, in fact. The Conservative Movement’s plan to begin offering franchising rights to indie minyanim is a blatant attempt at what economists would call Anti-Competitive Practices.
Hocking on her blog has a similar view of publishing firms vs. indie self publishing:
“Just so we’re clear – ebooks make up at best 20% of the market. Print books make up the other 80%. Traditional publishers still control the largest part of the market, and they will – for a long time, maybe forever...Even if ebooks end up being 80% of the market, at least half of those sales will probably come from traditionally published ebooks. So publishers will still control the majority of the market” (emphasis added).
As we’ve seen in the bailout of General Motors, the USA has a strong “too big to fail” ideology that keeps institutions in power. That, coupled with tremendous resources and reverence for the past, are why the Big Three Movements stay in power. The brand power is just that good and the institutions’ waters run that deep.
But just as there’s still room for the Amandas of the world, so will there always be room for communities like our OneShul indie minyan. And I think that’s the best we can all hope for. While I believe that PunkTorah is a revolution, perhaps it’s OK to be a “black swan”, a rare event that can have a huge impact.