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Larissa Miller's
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Larissa Miller about Global Portal "MyBookShop" – for the IAF-WIPO Meeting

Digital Revolution and Direct Authors-to-Readers Contact

Invited Talk presented to the International Authors Forum (IAF) Launch event at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, 29 July 2013

I propose to establish a worldwide portal “MyBookShop” – analogous, say, to the global YouTube or PayPal systems – where any author from any country would be able to register easily his/her personal bookshop and receive an income from the sales of his/her books (with account of the laws of the given country, tax requirements, etc.).

          Dear Mister Chairman,
          Ladies and Gentlemen,
          Dear Colleagues,
          Thank you for the opportunity to address this distinguished gathering. It’s a great honor for me and also a great responsibility.
          The establishment of the International Authors Forum is a very timely and necessary action in conditions of the accelerating digital revolution which carries not only new threats but also fantastic new possibilities for a direct exchange between the author and the reader through the internet.
          I’ve been enjoying this direct contact with the readers since January 2011 when I launched my LiveJournal blog called "Verses in Single File". Every morning, for already 900 days running, I post one or two poems in my blog. The wonderful thing about this project is the fact that every day I get 600-700 readers, to say nothing of the thousands of "friends " on Facebook and other internet "mirrors ". No printed book could give me access to such a wide and interested audience of readers of my poems.
          However, the seamy side of this is the absence of any material remuneration, only the moral satisfaction. To make a living I have to give private English lessons.
          The objective of the IAF is the protection of the moral and material rights of the authors. Yes, digital age resulted in gross violations of my rights as an author. I have more than 20 books, many of them are also in the electronic version. And not a once my friends from Russia and other countries tell me that they purchased my books through internet – under different covers. However neither me - as an author, nor my publisher were informed about it, not to mention any payments.
          And this brings me to the main message of my speech:
          I would be happy to get money from my books by selling their electronic version to my readers. But I can’t do it now. Because to sell something giving income I must register as individual entrepreneur with plenty of accompanying difficulties. All this is unbelievably difficult. And I guess that thousands of authors all over the world meet with the same problem.
          And I’d like to emphasize the fact that digital age provides the amazing opportunity for the authors to get technical possibilities and legal rights to sell the products of their creative endeavors by themselves. Now the time came for this opportunity to be widely realized in practice.
          Here is what I suggest. I propose to establish a worldwide portal "MyBookShop" (or perhaps "MyBookStore ") – analogous, say, to the global YouTube or PayPal systems – where any author from any country would be able to register easily his/her personal bookshop and receive an income from the sales of his/her books (with account of the laws of the given country, tax requirements, etc.).
          I believe that International Authors Forum can make this dream come true!

          And I’d like to emphasize one more fantastic opportunity of the digital age, the opportunity which, to my mind, is not used properly so far. We know that internet distracted millions from reading books. But internet may be also used to turn the tide.
          You need readers? It is impossible to find readers among those who have never, not once in their life, had an experience of pleasure from reading. Try to find readers in a herd of monkeys. Nothing will come out of it as they have never had such an experience. The same can be said about millions of our children and young people, as well as their parents, all those who have never had a chance to enjoy reading to themselves or reciting the lines of great works by great authors. This exquisite pleasure may be returned to people by means of internet. The declamation competition "Life classics" was organized among schoolchildren in Russia two years ago. And in 2012 there were already 2 million participants. I guess that the same may be organized in the internet.
          I’m convinced that the International Authors Forum is well able to realize this and many other ideas conducive to "enhancing the culture of reading".
          Thank you for your attention. And I would like to conclude with some short poems.
          This is the new one which is directly related to the theme under discussion:

* * *
What I live? What I breathe? – Oh I fly and I sing
How I make a living? By tutoring.
I give lessons to kids, and to teens I do too –
Have them answer in English my 'how do you do'?
You may answer, I teach them, in full or in short.
Should the lessons be gone, I will never be bored.
With the heavens I’ll talk then by night and by day,
Believing that money will fly to me anyway.

          Translated by Anatoly Rozenzweig

* * *
Чем живу? Чем дышу? – Я летаю, пою.
А на что я живу? – Я уроки даю.
Я уроки даю и подросткам и детям,
На вопрос: «Как живешь?» по-английски ответим.
Я и кратко и полно учу отвечать.
А не будет уроков – не буду скучать.
Буду целые дни говорить с небесами,
Веря в то, что рубли прибегут ко мне сами.


          One more new poem about the digital age:

* * *
Where is the envelope, stamped and licked down ?
Where is the paper that wore the nib like a crown ?
Line up your cursor, click the words into place...
For the world displays a new virtual face.
Where's the scrawl of a hand, the letters that slope?
All of it gone, in memories alone
Saved now, and filed for the digital years...
But where is the letter still damp with your tears?

          Translated by Sasha Dugdale

* * *
А где же конверт – чтобы с адресом, с маркой?
Где лист шелестящий с чернильной помаркой?..
Курсор подведи, затемни, сделай клик...
О мир, до чего изменился твой лик!
Где почерк корявый? Где буквы с наклоном?
Да всё там, где надо, – во времени оном...
Запомнил и кликнул, и в буфер занёс...
Но где же письмо, что промокло от слез?

          And one more poem from the book "Guests of Eternity" (ARC Publ., 2008):

* * *
Between the cloud and the pit,
betwixt the birch and the aspen,
between the best of life
and the completely unbearable
under the high vault of the sky
the unstoppable swings
between Bosch’s freaks
and Botticelli’s spring.

          Translated by Richard McKane

* * *
Между облаком и ямой,
Меж березой и осиной,
Между жизнью лучшей самой
И совсем невыносимой,
Под высоким небосводом
Непрестанные качели
Между босховским уродом
И весною Боттичелли.

          And a new one:

* * *
No-one owes you anything, you know.
You want a merry holiday? Fix it yourself.
You long for a song? Compose it yourself
And captivate everyone round you.
You yearn for the light? To cheer the world up
Do radiate light yourself. There’s no other way.

          Translated by David Anderson & Ilya Altshuler

* * *
Никто ведь не должен тебе ничего.
Ты праздника хочешь? Придумай его.
По песне тоскуешь? Так песню сложи
И всех окружающих приворожи.
По свету скучаешь? Чтоб радовал свет,
Ты сам излучай его. Выхода нет.