CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today CLICK HERE

Rowan Coleman: the attack on art

PUBLISHED: 16:02 08 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:02 08 May 2018

Rowan Coleman: art attack (photo: Getty Images)

Rowan Coleman: art attack (photo: Getty Images)


Rowan wonders what our civilisation will look like if we continue to devalue cultural works

This month my latest novel The Summer of Impossible Things is published in paperback. Set in Brooklyn in 1977, it’s a story about love, family and courage. And a little bit of disco. It’s almost two years since I finished writing it, a book that itself was almost two years in the making. But I still remember how long I laboured over every word, and every paragraph, and every draft, and all the passion and love for storytelling that I poured into it.

I’m fortunate enough (so far!) to have made my living from writing novels but I wonder if soon that will be a distant memory for new and established writers alike. Over the past decade we’ve seen the monetary value of books consistently devalued – to the point where most e-books must be priced at 99p to hit the bestsellers list, or under £3 in paperback. It seems people don’t want to pay more than the cost of a cup of coffee for a book anymore, even though a novel represents months of work and lasts much longer than your average beverage, not to mention that it could potentially change your life.

Even if a book is published, success is dependent on it being one of the handful of books selected to appear on supermarket shelves or Waterstones tables –much coveted positions that I’ve been lucky enough to see my books in more than once.

Readers are much less likely to browse than they used to, too. When was the last time you visited your local bookshop and ran your finger along the ‘spine out’ sections to see what new writer you might discover? Or do you go to the main tables and see what’s in the three-for-two offers?

It’s a dangerous game we play when we stop valuing art of any kind. Without literature – and works of art, music and theatre – what kind of civilisation are we? It would be one without beauty or joy – a corporate homogeneous mass.

If we make it impossible for people from ordinary backgrounds, like myself, to earn a living creating works of fiction, we are left with two scenarios only – everything we read, watch, or listen to will have been produced by a privileged few who don’t need the money to survive, or all art will soon be made by bots and AI. A new kind of civilisation will be dawning – one without humans at its core.

Art is the best gauge to measure the state of humanity that there is, and as such we should value it. We should treasure it.

So please go to a bookshop, browse and buy a book, even if it costs more than a fiver. And if it happens to be mine, then my children and bank manager thank you.


Bestselling novelist and mum-of-four Rowan Coleman shares the chaos and comedy of her life in the county

Twitter: @rowancoleman


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hertfordshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hertfordshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hertfordshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Thu, 00:00

Graham Denison is a projectionist at the Ritz cinema in Thirsk, one of the oldest cinemas in the country, staffed by a team of volunteers

Read more
Wed, 14:33

With The Great British Bake Off back on our screens the nation is falling in love with baking once again. Head pastry chef at Pennyhill Park, Sarah Frankland, tells us about what it takes to make it as a professional

Read more

Whatever your age, whatever your ambition, whatever your ability, Total Ensemble creates inclusive theatre with extraordinary results both on stage and off it

Read more
October 2018
Wed, 12:36

The new novel by Sarah Perry is out this month. It’s frighteningly good, writes Rowan Mantell

Read more
October 2018

Explorer, adventurer and UEA graduate Benedict Allen is set to reveal all about his controversial Papua New Guinea expedition when he appears in Norwich this month

Read more
October 2018
Wed, 10:10

He quit his job with a few thousand pounds in savings and an empty garage. In less than a year, Nick Grey’s technology company Gtech was flying. Tanya Gledhill meets him

Read more
Wed, 00:00

This month’s round-up by the Real Housewives of Cheshire star

Read more

It’s 3,000 miles of ocean, two hours on and two hours off for around 40 days - a St Albans geologist is taking up the challenge of rowing the Atlantic

Read more
October 2018

While some of us call nettles and dandelions weeds, others think of them as lunch. We meet Kent’s professional foraging tutors

Read more
October 2018
Tue, 13:45

Tessa Allingham sits down to dinner prepared by some of the county’s most talented chefs and their most promising protegés

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search