Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Burning Down The House

I thought it worth sharing an article from today's Guardian that seems to be sparking fierce debate in rainy old London. In the midst of the larger debate over the fate of the publishing industry, the book market in general, and, at least over here, the looming Christmas war on book prices, writer Stuart Jeffries has written a well-articulated observational piece on his country's biggest bookstore, titled no less than "How Waterstone's Killed Bookselling."

You can read, debate and twitter about the piece to your own heart's content, but I thought it was worth passing along if for no other reason than this quote by literary agent Bill Hamilton about one of my own favorite writers, Ian Rankin.

"Rankin was selling nothing at all for the first few novels he wrote, but publishers knew he would take off and so they kept with him. The opportunity isn't there to do that any more because sales are so low that you lose too much money initially, even if you make money later. That old, very successful business model doesn't make sense any more. Thanks to the prevailing way in which books are sold there would be no new Rankin."

Welcome to Rome. Now where's my fiddle?


Anonymous said...

So if you want to get published write adolescent dribble about forbidden vampire love or diet books.

bbrearle said...

I can't help but be reminded of Svevo's voluntary exile from (capital "L") Literature. After the harsh criticism of Senilita he abandons Literature, "but one can never stop writing!"

I suppose the recent trends in publishing are going to foster much the same resentment. Hopefully, writers will keep writing, hoarding away their manuscripts waiting for winter to pass.