In yesterday’s post, I discussed the state of the publishing industry with respect to Barnes & Noble’s recent unimpressive fiscal announcements. How would the disappearance of the last remaining large-scale, traditional bookstore affect the metaphysical book industry? After speaking with two industry experts, the answer seems conclusive. A Barnes & Noble collapse, while not at all preferable, would not permanently damage either company. Llewellyn and the Phoenix & Dragon Bookstore both maintain flexible, diverse, customer-driven business structures that are adaptable in this evolving marketplace. Will Barnes & Noble go the same way as Borders?
Over the past ten years there has been a significant increase in the number of writers who are self-publishing. The days of literary agents and big publishing houses may be numbered. Actual statistics are hard to come by due to the multiple modes of production. However, several big papers have attempted some estimations. In 2011 the New York Daily News reported that 43% of all paperbacks were self-published, with overall publishing up 287% from 2006. The Wall Street Journal reported that self-published books were up by 160% over the same period. Amazon’s publishing arm, Create Space, told the New York Times that “its books increased by 80% from 2009-2010” alone.
Self-publishing is reasonably affordable and easily available from the “comfort of your own home.” It promises higher returns on your investment and stardom for authors with no name, following, or agent to call their own. For many undiscovered writers who fail to attract the attention of the New York-based big six publishing houses or other smaller companies, the self-publishing option is the only option. While readers may still associate the self-published book with the untalented or self-aggrandizing writer, times are changing. Self-publishing has now become a very viable option for even the most accomplished and prolific of authors. This mode of production puts the power back into the artist’s hands. Last week I interviewed one such author – John Matthews. John is an accomplished historian, folklorist, and author. Over the past 30 years he has written over 90 books on Arthurian mythology as well as a volume of poetry and many short stories. His children’s book, Pirates, reached the number one slot on the New York Times Best Seller list in 2006.
When we left off yesterday, Mark Ryan was discussing his experience creating the Greenwood Tarot. This wildly popular deck was published in 1996 after five long years of work by himself and artist Chesca Potter. Eventually, Mark moved on to other projects. He made guest appearances on a number of American T.V. shows and movies such as: Frasier, Alias, J.A.G., and Charlie’s Angels (film). He was hired as a sword coach for Richard Gere during the filming of First Night.
This fall, Stevie Nicks released “In Your Dreams,” a personal documentary examining her life and career. Announcing the release, Ultimate Classic Rock remarked that the documentary’s release is “the most exciting news for the year for Wiccan candle…enthusiasts.” After all these years, the media still clings to the myth that Stevie Nicks is Pagan. In a 1998 online Yahoo interview, she was quoted as saying, “I’m not a witch. Get a life!”
Are there Pagan celebrities? Madonna, Demi Moore and others reportedly have studied the Kabbalah. Julia Roberts has openly converted to Hinduism. Although not mainstream, those spiritual paths are not necessarily Pagan. Neither Amy Ray, who loosely uses the word Pagan as a descriptive, nor Dar Williams, whose interfaith song “The Christians and the Pagans” has captured many an imagination, has openly professed to being Pagan. When it comes down to it, there are very few entertainment celebrities who openly practice a Pagan spiritual path. There’s Sully Erma, Godsmack’s lead singer, and Teo Bishop, who revealed himself to be recording artist Matt Morris. Truthfully, we could probably count them on one hand. Fortunately, just this month, I had the opportunity to speak to one of these rare individuals – actor and writer, Mark Ryan.
[The following is a guest interview with John Matthews, author of “The Sidhe: Wisdom from the Celtic Otherworld” and 90 other books, co-creator of The Wildwood Tarot. Matthews and fellow Wildwood Tarot co-creator Mark Ryan, who played “Nasir” on Robin of Sherwood, will be appearing in Atlanta, Georgia this November to conduct a workshop. The interview was conducted by Virginia Chandler, with an introduction written by John Matthews.]
For many people today, the woodlands are the last vestiges of the mystical world in which we had our beginning. Such places are full of classic archetypes from Robin Hood to the shadowy figures of the Green Man and Woman. To walk in the wild wood is to take a journey back in time to a place where we, ourselves, are different; a place where deep ancestral wisdom still resides; a place where a partnership with the denizens of the wild wood is as natural as breathing.