Publishing texts (IX): The Creative Economy
As regular readers of this blog will know, I like to try to understand publishing by placing it in a broader context, consisting of the creative industries in general.
This concern is reflected in my choice of (I suggest) canonical texts for publishers, listed on The Publishers’ Bookshelf page above. There will thirteen such texts in all. Though most focus wholly on publishing, a few – for example, Steve Harrison’s How to do better creative work – deal with other areas of the creative economy.
Another such is The creative economy: how people make money from ideas by John Howkins, published by Penguin under the Allen Lane imprint (2001). It provides a portrait of the creative economy – its main components and the issues and themes associated with it, with particular reference to intellectual property.
The sectors Howkins covers are: advertising; architecture; art; crafts; design; fashion; film; music; performing arts; publishing; R & D; software; toys and games; TV and radio; and video games.
This is not an especially ambitious book, but it does well what it sets out to do. It uses a blend of exposition, interviews, stories, advice, and statistics to provide an effective portrait of the creative economy – though by now, of course, it is in need of updating.
My favourite passage in the book comes in the chapter on managing creativity, in which Howkins tells the story of the development of a young guitarist called Tom. Howkins asks when the guitarist could be said to have been working and when earning. Howkins explains:
According to British Law, someone who is self-employed like Tom [the guitarist] can be broke, can even be ill and unable to work, but he cannot be unemployed. So Tom can be working and not earning, and earning but not working. Tom’s answer is forthright. He is always working
… in other words, even when he is playing his guitar in his bedroom. The point is worth pondering.