What a Writer Is Up Against

This is a brilliant assessment of the publishing industry today. The most chilling to me is number 4: if you are lucky enough to hit the target: “the corporation will see a spike in your profit and sort of autistically, or at least automatically, raise the profit goal for your division by some corporately predetermined amount for the following year.”

The other chilling thing is that my husband, one of the readers Mr. Menaker prizes the most–the one who buys hard-cover literary novels when they first come out, before they’ve won the Booker or the National Book Award–asked for a Kindle. I didn’t know what to say. But I said a lot anyway. Or maybe I didn’t. I think I held up a book, ran my finger along its cover, opened it, sniffed the glue wafting up from its sturdy spine. He said, “I know, but I can buy a new book for $9.”

And as a writer who has been pursuing publication for so damned long, these are hard things to hear, although I have heard them before and before and all the time. But but but

I write to keep my soul alive, and hope springs eternal.

3 thoughts on “What a Writer Is Up Against

  1. The Kindle can be nothing but good for the writer! It brings production costs down to zero (physical production, of course, not marketing and so forth). That means no minimum print run for your book to break even. The “if it's not going to sell x copies it's not worth printing” rule goes out the window. Non-blockbusters become worth looking at again.

    And if Amazon (and others who follow) start offering some books in electronic-only format, they do not need anyone to produce those books. They can cut out the middle man and buy them directly from you, which is bad for publishers, but not necessarily for you.

    We'll adapt. It can't get any harder. 🙂


  2. Yes, it may not be a disaster for the writer and the publisher but what about the bookstore. How sad and sterile life would be without bookstores, and I do NOT mean Borders.

    Speaking of which, Jeff went in to Borders here the other day with a little 40% off coupon he'd gotten looking for Wolf Hall, winner of the Mann Booker Prize. They didn't have it, had never heard of it, it wasn't listed in their computer.


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