I can get books fast. I can find tons of books online, from new ones to classics. I can find them fast I can find them cheap. I can find a lot of physical books fast, from cheap POD to used book stores. If I want literature, from classics to trash, I've got a lot of ways to get it fast and cheap.
Iv'e wondered if this affects the value of literature – and other media - but not necessarily in the way we may expect.
First of all, yes, there's plenty of crap, as Theodore Sturgeon often noted. I'm sure much of what I can find may not be good by many standards, or may not have aged well. But still it's there and available if, say, my tastes run to the cheesy or the old or to given subjects, or whatever.
There's also plenty of literature that won't have much interest to people. It's time may have passed, it may be too obscure, it may not be written in a style that's popular. Still it is there.
So we have a sea of literature. Some may decry "how will good works stand out" as they look about the ocean of words and tomes, though usually they mean "how will my works stand out." However, among all the available books and documents and novels and novelas, one does wonder how great works – or popular ones – will rise to the top.
I've started to wonder if part of the function of this giant mass of available literature is that, though it may indeed cover up some works, it also makes works stand out by sheer contrast.
Imagine a book or novel or work stands out just a bit more than the others. Just a bit. It may not even be for a good reason, but stands out it does. Suddenly there's something different in the great expanse of books on the internet and in book stores. Suddenly something stands out.
Then, I would expect that just by sheer contrast – for whatever reason – that book standing out would increase its sales and people's interests. Because, somehow, it stood out.
So thus I wonder if this great amount of available literature, at times, just adds a kind of contrast that can make something new, different, or outstanding even more popular. If you can stand out, even a little bit, that effect is magnified.
Maybe the people fearful over "good" works (or their works) not standing out need to find ways to define themselves more, and let the contrast work.