Once upon a time there was a writer who was solitary at his desk. All his life had been dedicated to books. From dawn to twilight, his pen was chasing the right word, the definitive sentence. Days were passing by. Each new day was a step towards his Magnus Opus. Was he happy? Nobody knew, not even himself. Were King Arthur and his knights happy? They knew about one thing only: The Holy Grail was what their lives were all about. There was no place for sorrow or happiness. Pain for sure. Our writer believed in what they believed: Lonely perspiration will get you there, to your Magnus Opus. His publisher shared the same faith although, from times to times, he doubted the Magnus Opus would ever see the public light. The Magnus Opus seemed like a never ending story. No publisher, even the shrewdest, knew how not to lose money on a never ending Magnus Opus copyright.
Sometimes the publisher would hear some silly stories about books that were written online, crowdsourced, the product of multiple anonymous pens. How can it be? By what stretch of imagination could books end up as a collective knowledge factory, always at work, where you cannot distinguish between writers and readers. Why would the Magnus Opus be exposed to all eyes, to all brains while it should have been kept as a genuine secret until publishing time?
Are books dead? Should the writer give up his cherished solitary desk and strive for something else?
No, books are not dead. They are different. Why? Because we are different too. The Magnus Opus is not dead either: It will become even "more Magnus" simply because we are more and as a crowd we are able to transform perspiration into inspiration.
No, we won't pretend that each of us is a good as the solitary writer at his desk, only that we can make him or her even better should he or she and his or her publisher accept us in his or her writing cabinet.
Writing and publishing should not remain solitary exercises. Otherwise they'll become a dry land of failed and lost opportunities, the opportunities many of us were willing to share thanks to the many digital tools our voices can embrace.
Life is not perspiration or inspiration, solitary or collaborative, closed or open, all rights reserved or no rights reserved. It is all of this. And, in all of this, books, writers and publishers have a bright future, the future of our collective collaborative wisdom.