Why should there always be either one or the other?


In the publishing industry, we have seen so many issues of “either one or the other” in recent years. Questions such as “do women write better science fiction than men?” and “do childless female writers have to use childbirth as a metaphor when talking about writing?” have popped up on Twitter and attracted plenty of attention. Everlasting arguments such as “in defense of adverbs” have resurfaced, not to mention that clichéd interrogation, “which one is better, print or digital?” These days even the issue of “traditional vs. self publishing” is fiercely debated, as if we really, truly, definitely and desperately need to find an utterly absolute answer.

I am not one into conflicts and confrontations. As a publisher of Chinese ebooks, I have committed to a career of helping all English-language writers, emerging and established, to translate, publish and promote their writings in Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese in all sorts of electronic formats, i.e. to boldly enter that mysterious world that is the Chinese literary market. But does this stop me from reading, worshipping and believing in print books? No.

This evening I was sitting on the train, surrounding by people sitting or standing, who bowed their heads at books either paper-based or digital, mobile phones either smart or normal, tablets displaying either news or movies, and publications that are either magazines or newspapers. Does it matter either one “thing” or the other is more important in our hands? No, because all of us have somewhere to go after a long day’s hard work, and all of us just want to have a good life that any ordinary person deserves.

All of us can co-exist in harmony, and there is really no point in arguing which choice is better. One does not need to be a translator to recognize the fact that every language is beautiful in its own way. The “either…or…” question is really senseless because everyone has a different sense of aesthetics.

Image thanks to: The mutually complimentary Ying and Yang.


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