Here’s the link: Konrath on 2015
And the results: Amazon is the reader’s friend
Let’s make this a summary. I didn’t see the debate, but I can imagine Turow was witty and Konrath backed up his position with facts. Notice I didn’t give Turow the benefit of the doubt regarding the use of facts. He is a lawyer by trade, so to him facts are irrelevant. One more time though, for posterity, I like traditional publishing but it is DEAD. Nobody writing today will be using a traditional publishing house in the next ten years. They cannot support themselves, and they are unwilling to support the talent. They are a business that exists in an era where other options have opened up for the talent, and the other options are proving more lucrative. The results of the poll from the debate I linked are skewed, due in part to a large portion of those polled having a lot riding on traditional publishing houses having a heartbeat.
When a former advertising executive becomes a best selling author by proxy and handing outlines to hired hands, and Snookie gets a book deal with advances written into the contract, the publishing industry has essentially admitted it is no longer a gate keeper or needed. Technology has replaced it. For better or worse. I’m sure Turow and the publishing powers that be would like to use that tired old “gatekeeper of artistic value” line, but they lost it. For crying out loud didn’t a NYT staffer pen a best seller that turned out to be total hooey? Didn’t Oprah have him, and another guy on who did the same thing? And they apologized for it.
I love the idea of words as creative art, but it’s just a story. Amazon, and a line-up of other businesses, make it possible for those that tell stories, or relate ideas, to do so where it is instantly available, economical, and in a format of choice. The publishing industry did not evolve. It has gone the way of Kodak, it just doesn’t know it yet. Or maybe it does? So it goes kicking and screaming into the past.
As long as your nation of residence does not block your internet you can read any number of works. From classics like Dostoevsky to the I Ching, or you can find your favorite genre on heaven forbid Amazon. Paperback, hardback, or eBook. Why go to Amazon? iBooks is out there, Sony, or you could hit the writer up on their website, pay them directly, and download it from them.
Look, the printing press is old. What we are currently using is just a modification of that technology. Kind of like what the Amish do when they use Yokohama tires on one of their carts. Start driving a car for crying out loud! Nobody goes to work in a horse and buggy, and we shouldn’t be spitting out novels on 16th century tech. Digital is user friendly, environmentally sound, and cheaper. If the publishers wanted in on that game they should not have milled about in the corner at the cocktail party, schmoozing with the “elites” (who gave Glass and Snookie book deals). They should have been practicing magic tricks to impress the ladies, and then floor them with their style. Now all they can do is whine. Like a bunch of dried up old men without a refill of Viagra. Is it sad? No. It is justice.
They ride everything on the “old order”, and cater to them. Now don’t get me wrong, Patterson and King are good, and I do look forward to King’s books. But they are getting old. They will die. Before they die they will stop writing, because that’s what happens when you are an aging writer. Probably around 75 or 80. Most of these “old order” writers are encroaching on that. When that happens the publishing houses will have to scramble. While some talent still checks in with them, and gets checks from them, more talent is going the new route. Mostly younger people, Generation-X to a degree, but the Millenials definitely.
I’d go out on a limb and say more Millenials are going the self/indie route than anything. That’s a huge chunk of the talent pool. When the “old order” calls it quits the publishing houses will have to convince the Millenials to come over, just to stay afloat. They aren’t stupid (the Millenials). While Gen-X invented this thing, they run it. And that is the problem.
Why would a writer, in the age range of 25-45, give up their work for a small amount of money just so a publishing company could make a larger portion of money?
They won’t. If they are running their own website, have an editor they work with, and a cover art person, their is no need. They are sending the book off to be formatted, and paying a small fee, and they determine when and where it gets sold, and for how much. If a movie/script deal is to be negotiated they are the ones that hit the pavement and solicited the deal. They keep it all. They don’t even need agents anymore. It’s a business, and like all businesses things changed. A long time ago doctors used to have jars of leeches to bleed a fever out, now they have aspirin and Tylenol. Those leech farmers went out of business, but not the doctors. And that is what the publishing industry is failing to understand. They are not the business, the writers are. They can vanish, and the writers will still find the readers.
I do not know a great deal about running a business (my wife handles the money). I do know something about logic. If the core focus of your industry is the industry itself, the industry will collapse. And that is how publishing has been going at it for the last thirty years, at least. The industry existed for the sake of the industry. Independent films became popular in the early 90’s and they are now considered mainstream. Sirius/XM has not one, not two, but three channels devoted to different aspects of indie music. I do feel bad about one thing regarding the demise of the publishing industry. Where will all those snotty lil’ shits go when it collapses? Politics. Because that is the other “industry” where you can do nothing but think or criticize, make mistakes, blame others, and still make a chunk of change.
So long Kodak! I mean Simon Schuster, Random House, Hachette, Harper Collins. (There are five “big houses”, I know, but I think MacMillan publishes textbooks which are no longer going to be used, so it is in decline all on it’s own, and for reasons that involve not embracing technology).