F*** You, You Whining F***: 10/25/08

I suppose a disproportionate number of these F*** You posts are going to come from the literary world. I just have a great deal of pissed-off with regards to people who think book publishing could be a utopian wonderworld if publishers would just stop caring about making money. Don’t get me wrong; a lot of money gets wasted and big publishers are hemmed in by a blockbuster mentality, but that said . . . well, let’s just leave it to the David Ulin, book editor at the L.A. Times:

What’s more likely [than mid-list authors getting low-balled in favor of hype-driven Big Deals], I think, is that publishers will scale back some of their higher-end advances, especially in regard to certain risky properties: books blown out of magazine stories, over-hyped first novels, multi-platform “synergies.” At least, I hope that’s what happens, because one of the worst trends in publishing — in culture in general — over the last decade or so has been its air of desperate frenzy, which far more than falling numbers tells you that an industry is in decline.

That is, faced with hard times and a declining global economy, book publishers are going to abandon their quick-hit strategy, and start promoting “serious” literary midlist authors whose books could take decades to catch on (if they ever do). Oh, and they won’t do this because it would make any sense to their management and ownership per se, but because that’s what I want to happen.

And this will work why? Oh, because our global economic tumult will make us all crave “serious” literature!

This, of course, may be the silver lining to our current economic contraction: No more will publishers or writers have time or money for ephemera. During the Great Depression, even popular literature got serious: The 1930s saw the birth of noir. As the money dries up, so too, one hopes, does the gadabout nature of literary culture, the breathless gossip, all the endless hue and cry.

I just hope they don’t let him review business and finance books.

Bonus: the writer refers to the “ridiculous (and ongoing) print-versus-Web non-controversy” despite the fact that he works at a newspaper that’s collapsing . . . because all of its readers have left for the Web!

One Reply to “F*** You, You Whining F***: 10/25/08”

  1. You are right, of course, Gil. The problem is as much with readers as with publishers. CBS canceled Jonathan Winter’s show because, as an exec told Jon: “People don’t want to think after 6 pm.” That said, however, when I used to go regularly to the Rutherford library, I noticed they kept the bestseller list taped to a counter and put red stars next to the books the library had. the mentality was: make sure we have what everyone can find anywhere else. I thought this was exactly the opposite of a library should be doing. they should have had stars next to the names of good books in their collection people may have overlooked or might never have heard of. One of the librarians agreed with me. She didn’t last long there.

    I think there are things that can be done–not by forcing people to read better books or literature, but by introducing them to better books. But everyone is chasing the same dollar so to speak (which is why New York radio is so crap); they are all relying on the same formula, all playing the safest bet.

    My two cents.

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