The way markets work is not very simple. But it can be put across simply by putting things in terms of demand and supply of goods and services.
For example, people want an object and that object is in short supply. So whatever small numbers are available, go at a higher than usual price. If someone figures out a way of mass-producing this object, then prices fall and everyone who wants this object can have it easily.
High demands pressure markets into increasing supply. Increased supply lowers prices and bring things into the average buyer’s reach. And when everyone has easy access to an object in high demand, prices fall and the object is suddenly not in such high demand any longer. These factors play hide and seek in all markets and cause economies to go up and down and all over the place. But by and large, markets survive these ups and downs. This is because no single factor — demand, supply, the ability of the average buyer to pay for the things he or she wants — has absolute power over any other. There is a limit to demand — people wouldn’t want something at any cost. There is a limit to supply — no one can build enough objects to satisfy all demand. And lastly, there is is a very obvious limit to people’s ability to pay. I am not unimaginably rich and, I am guessing, neither are you.
But sometimes in history, things change. Events spin about on a paradigm shift and it becomes apparent that the market, as we know it, will never be the same again.
You and I — I the creator of this content, and you the consumer of it — are right in the middle of one such historical shift.
Good reading material is, and has always been, in great demand. There has always been a fair amount of supply to satisfy this demand. And readers — people who are willing to spend their money in order to be able to read good writing — have played their part in the upkeep of this market also. Therefore, in keeping with tradition, the markets have behaved the way one might expect them to, playing the same old game with respect to demand, supply, and paying power.
So what is different now?
The internet has changed everything! The limits have been lifted. All three factors now stretch out to infinity.
Demand is infinite. The millions of people who are online all day long on their computers or their mobile devices are all looking to read. Sure they watch videos and comment on blogs also, but the primary driver behind all content on the internet is the act of reading. Metadata, descriptions, captions, full-length news articles — it all has to be read. While every single person online may not be looking to read the next great classic of world literature, they are all in the market for good writing. They are all part of what might be laballed “the reading public”. They are potential readers. They are capable of reading and have easy access to it on the web. In another age, this section was smaller in size — the reading public comprised only of those who could read and were willing to buy reading material. Not so any more. Everyone is a reader, or at least a potential one.
Supply is infinite. In the past, the number of people who were writing books and articles and stories and poems was limited. The number of people who had access to publishing mechanisms was even smaller. These days anyone with access to a humble little QWERTY keyboard is a writer, or at least a potential one. Enormous amounts of text pour into the internet everyday in the form of blog posts, tweets, comments, and articles. Fiction and non-fiction alike, created by everyday users of the web like you and I, find a welcome home on the internet. Not all writers create a classic, but a return to the days before the web when editors and publishers made decisions regarding what the public would read and what it will not, seems impractical as well as undesirable. After all, who is to say that a writer rejected by all major publishers (probably less than ten in number) would not have found one hundred like-minded readers who might have truly appreciated his work. In another age, such a writer would never had a chance at being read. Today he or she would.
And lastly, in what might seem like the most revolutionary change to affect any market ever, purchasing power is now infinite. How? Because there is no price tag on most reading material on the internet. Most writing on the internet is FREE to read! What this does is that it affects the other two factors — demand and supply — in significant ways. People who want to read have impossibly easy access to large amounts of really good reading matter. In addition, people who, under ordinary circumstances or in times before the advent of the web, may not have bothered with reading, will spend good amounts of time reading as well. Mostly they will do it for no other reason than that it is free, but a good number of times, it may lead to the development of a wholesome reading habit.
So in summary, a very nearly infinite number of readers are reading a very nearly infinite amount of writing by a very nearly infinite number of writers. They are doing this all day long on an everyday basis and they are doing it all over the world, in homes, offices, on board public transport, in toilets, and everywhere in-between. Reading and writing are ubiquitous activities now.