The Times Arts section this morning discovered a shocking new trend: Authors who are willing to do pretty much anything to get published, even if it means getting in on this crazy Internet thing. Apparently Simon & Schuster's Touchstone Imprint — which recently canceled a first-time author contest co-sponsored with Sobol Literary Enterprises, an agency, after the $85 entry fee scared off participants — has now created a new contest in partnership with Gather.com, a sort of MySpace for people who understand they're too old for MySpace. (We're impressed with the judging skills already.) Aspiring authors will submit the first chapters of their novels; Gather.com members will vote in rounds until they get a winner. The prize is $5,000 from the site and a book contract from Touchstone. We already know, of course, that You control the media, ever since Time told us. So we're not terribly surprised You control publishing. (Can we say how much we're looking forward to getting You coffee?) But we're most taken by the article's lede, which wonders, "Is there anything the American consumer isn't allowed to decide?" and cites examples like YouTube, American Idol, and a decision on Doritos' next Super Bowl commercial. See, it's true: There is nothing Americans aren't allowed to decide. Well, except, the 2000 election, whether to fight global warming, housing for Katrina victims and the war in Iraq. But, hey, we do get to pick the Top Chef.
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