James Patterson Wants Bailout Money. Wait, What?

by August Wainwright on April 24, 2013

I don’t know James Patterson personally. I have no doubt he’s a kind and thoughtful man; I have absolutely no reason to believe otherwise.

But his recent ad (shown below) that ran in the New York Times Book Review and in Publishers Weekly (along with the follow-up article in Salon) proposing a government bailout for failing bookstores and publishers is one of the most atrociously ludicrous ideas I’ve ever heard.

(And that’s saying a lot when you’ve got guys like Scott Turow who keep opening their mouths.)

Here’s the ad:

Patterson Bailout Ad - August Wainwright

 

If you haven’t read the Salon article, you can read it here. WARNING: Be prepared for the desire to want to punch your computer screen.

First of all, let’s talk a little politics.

I thoroughly enjoy how the “elite”, as we’ll call them, seem to conveniently forget everything they’ve said and stood for when they find themselves in trouble.

Like when Republicans (and some Democrats as well) in Congress voted against stimulus spending, spoke to the media and their constituents about how the bailout money did nothing to create new jobs, and then, on numerous different occasions,  tried their best to funnel that money to various state projects on the grounds that it would help create thousands of jobs.

You have to love that kind of blatant hypocrisy.

Congress Leaders - August Wainwright

Even John Boehner can’t believe Patterson would ask for a bailout

 

The publishing companies, to which I include Patterson among their ranks, are just like politicians; they hate the idea of regulations. They hate being told what they can and can’t do. They scream, “Stay out of my pocket because I’m a titan of industry and I’m creating jobs, creating wealth… hell, I’m creating America.”. They hate handouts. They hate when marketplaces evolve and the people at the bottom start to change the rules of the game.

But yet, as soon as they see things changing (which is always much much later than everyone else), they go running right to the government begging for help.

Patterson says:

“I haven’t thought about it but I’m sure there are things that can be done. There might be tax breaks, there might be limitations on the monopolies in the book business.”

WOW! Don’t even get me started on monopolies in the book business; I’ve already talked about that one.

In the Salon article, Patterson is dubbed the:

“closest thing the publishing industry has to an ambassador… advocating for government intervention… in order to save an industry besieged by bookstore closings and consolidation of the few remaining major publishing houses.”

Yea… No. That’s not what’s “besieging” the publishing industry.

And isn’t that reminiscent of something an addict would say; blame everyone else, but don’t ever look yourself in the mirror, right?

What’s besieging the industry is the fact that they refuse to evolve, refuse to embrace technological changes, refuse to listen to what the REAL consumers (the readers) are asking for, and they refuse to respect the content producers (the authors) as they continually act like authors aren’t necessary.

Patterson goes on to say:

“E-books are fine and dandy, but it’s all happening so quickly, and I don’t think anyone thought through the consequence of having fewer bookstores, of libraries being shut down or limited, of publishers going out of business – possibly in the future, many publishers going out of business.”

Again, look in the damn mirror. E-books aren’t responsible for fewer bookstores or fewer publishers – shitty business practices are. E-books aren’t responsible for libraries being shut down or limited (a completely asinine idea to begin with) – that honor goes to TV, movies, Playstation, Xbox, Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, iPhones, and the Internet in general.

Now, at one point in the article, Patterson encourages people to pick a book they love and give it to a stranger.

Good, great. Do it. Sounds good to me.

But what it seems to me that Patterson is really saying here is pick up a physical (or better yet, go buy another) copy of a book you love, because, God forbid you own a copy of a beloved book in a digital format, and hand that to some lucky stranger because the only way we can keep writing and reading alive is through physical media.

Just like when iTunes and cheap digital distribution were going to kill the music industry – which didn’t happen. Instead we have more amazing indie and small market bands than at any other time in the history of music.

Just like when piracy was going to kill the movie industry – which also didn’t happen. Now we have new film festivals popping up every year and brilliant small budget films that are being made with D-SLR’s.

Because we all know digital media and technology are the bad guy here. Yea, right.

Seriously, how many physical books can one person collect? Where are all these kids that Patterson speaks about, who at one point, apparently had bedrooms full of classic literature? And who has room for huge collections of books anyways? If Patterson has room for a library full of physical books, well good for him (I’m sure lots of people would like that), but the 30-something New York professional with a wife and kid who lives in a walk up apartment, where the hell are they supposed to keep all these books?

And the last time I checked, you can read Tolstoy, Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Bradbury just as easily on an e-reader as you can in hardback.

So what Patterson, including the publishers he represents, ultimately want, and what all the people who share his views want, is the continuation of the norm; they want to stop progress and keep things tilted in their favor.

If Patterson REALLY wanted kids reading classics, then instead of giving them a $15 paperback, he should be advocating for people to give kids an e-reader loaded with ALL of the classics.

Just for a minute, imagine a world where Amazon, or any company for that matter, could produce a bare-bones e-reader that removed the barrier of entry for even the poorest of families. Imagine if there were e-reader devices that cost the same as a single hardcover. Imagine a neighborhood where even the poorest kids could turn their attention to the screen of a device loaded with the most influential, controversial, and educational writing in the history of mankind.

You want kids to have books and information and knowledge at their fingertips?

Don’t give them a classic, give them the future. Remove the barriers that keep them from having that right now.

If Patterson really wanted to help, if he really wanted to do something, as he put it:

“… in service of his argument that the American publishing industry has, historically, been able to produce enduring classics – and that its power will be gravely foreshortened, and the number of classics limited by attenuated publishing and bookselling industries.”

WAIT, STOP!

Take a moment to re-read that. Specifically, pay attention to the part where Patterson says that the “American publishing industry has, historically, been able to produce enduring classics”.

Please, Mr. Patterson, I beg you to tell me the last time Penguin wrote an enduring classic. What classic did HarperCollins write? How many years did Random House spend in front of a typewriter, producing their venerable classic?

The American publishing industry has never, unless I’m sorely missing something, produced a single piece of enduring literature. All they’ve ever done is market and sell it. Authors are the producers, not publishers.

You would expect James Patterson, of all people, to know that. But then again, Patterson really isn’t an author is he? At least not in the “classical” sense.

He’s more an idea man, who crafts stories and plot, and then outsources the actual writing of books to the real writers, like some apparel company who outsources production to sweatshops in China. Patterson is far closer to being a publisher than an author. This is not to say that he wasn’t once a writer himself, but that’s in the distant past, in a world that no longer exists.

Sorry, got sidetracked there.

Back to the point; if Patterson really wanted to help, he would be attempting to find ways to craft a new generation of writers to produce the types of works which he dubs “classics”.

Like a good leader, he would empower those beneath him. He would pass along the wisdom that he’s collected over so many years to the next generation of storytellers. He would fight to improve the craft of writing itself.

Instead, he finds himself on whatever mountaintop he calls home, looking down at those struggling below him, and thinks to himself, “How can I get higher?”

Because helping is not what Patterson and publishers want. They have no desire to help writers if it doesn’t help their bottom-line. And I have to believe they want bookstores to stay in business for one very specific reason, one that most people, even authors, seem to forget…

Publishers DO NOT sell to readers, they sell to bookstores and distributors.

When publishers talk about readers and what readers want and how to better serve readers, I want to scream at the top of my lungs. Publishers don’t know what readers want; if they did, they wouldn’t be in the position they are right now.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read about an author who self-publishes a few of their books, collects information about their readers, and then brings just a tiny piece of that information to their publisher, only to be met with a “Wow, really? We didn’t know that.” response.

Bookstores are publishers’ customers, not readers.

And what’s even more ridiculous is that if bookstores evolved and created a better business model, then they would flourish. Same with publishers. If Barnes and Noble realized that what people want is a place to experience books, they would be doing just fine.

Listen, Starbucks coffee stinks. Go to any Starbucks and it’s packed with people, sipping that burnt crap. I don’t go to Starbucks because of the coffee, I go because of the experience of the coffee shop. Sometimes I take comfort in looking over at the hipster next to me who swears he’s the next Annie Leibovitz. On rare occasions, I’ll even travel outside of my comfy little bubble and spark up a conversation with another human being. Crazy right?

If B&N understood that the reason most people go to their stores is to experience the joy of being surrounded by books, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation, or at least, they wouldn’t be included.

Hey B&N, make your stores comfortable to read. Create a club where customers pay a yearly membership fee and if they own a Nook, they can borrow any book they want while they’re in the store – when they leave, it disappears from the device. Do something, shit, do anything. Make me want to come to your store.

Bookstores, and we’re talking about the mega-stores here, are “suffering” because they sell a select number of titles, at a premium price, and don’t understand what the customer who walks through the door really wants.

Independent stores who offer unique buying experiences and gorgeous well crafted books will always have a place to do business. But mega-stores and publishers don’t want any part of that.

They don’t want to change. They don’t want to evolve. And because of that, they have been “besieged” and are “suffering“.

And because of their suffering, James Patterson thinks they deserve a bailout.

And because James Patterson thinks they deserve a bailout, now I have to attempt to forget I know who James Patterson is.

 

I’m hopeful that Mr. Patterson, or someone who believes the same things he does, would be willing to discuss their viewpoints. But I’m not going to hold my breath. Much like Scott Turow, they use their platforms to shout their opinions, but when asked for facts and examples to back up their ridiculous ideas, they are nowhere to be found.

So, instead, let me know what you think. Give me your opinions on Patterson and publishing and politicians. How do we fight to keep producing these “classics” and how do we make sure our kids have access to them. Leave a comment below.

 

*UPDATE* – apparently, Patterson also did a quick interview for Publishers Weekly. You can read that article here. In the article, Patterson expresses his:

frustration at the lack of advancement of the future of books discussion. The discussion, Patterson said, is stuck in a rut and there are ways everyone can chip in to fix it.

At one point, he says “Publishers should… get in attack mode” and that “The New York Times needs to wake the fuck up.”

No, seriously. That’s what he said.

Really Mr. Patterson, the New York Times is the one who needs to “wake the fuck up“? Really? You can’t think of anyone else who might be better suited to take on such a task?

What is even more brilliant about the Publishers Weekly piece is the overwhelming support Patterson is getting there, for apparently being: just the type of voice that publishers need and stepping up to put his money where his mouth is.

(I’m not sure how he’s doing either of those things – but that’s just me.)

There’s even some talk of how breaking up Amazon for monopolistic behavior would help all the little guys who can’t compete with them selling below wholesale.

Unfortunately, due to my stubborn nature, I refuse to join Facebook. Publishers Weekly will only allow comments from Facebook users, so I won’t be able to join in on that discussion. But to anyone who reads this, please go check out my piece on Amazon as a monopoly in the publishing/book business, and kindly suggest that the people supporting Patterson at Publishers Weekly come join in a real debate, either here or over at Joe Konrath’s site.

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34 comments

Good analysis. The ad itself is so unfocused that it never states the precise problem that he expects to be fixed, or what outcome he wants. In the interview it is clear only that his thinking is unclear. It is getting broken (his world) and he wants it fixed.

And thanks for the point on bookstores. They should be great places to be and read and discuss. Something like the 30s coffee houses in Europe but with books. Paper, ebook, all of it. People would go. Maybe not millions but enough to support a reasonable number of stores.

by Ed Teja on April 25, 2013 at 12:15 am. Reply #

Thanks Ed.

I too found it interesting that, as prolific of an author Patterson is supposed to be, he just seemed to ramble incoherent thoughts for most of that interview. You would think if someone was “passionate” enough to put ads in two publications, you’d at least have your argument hashed out.

And I would give a toe (like one of the little ones) to get in front of the board/group of people who makes decisions for large bookstores. Because I love bookstores, and their stupidity (maybe greed, I don’t know) is killing a business that could evolve into something so amazing. If only.

Thanks for leaving a comment. Hope to see you back here soon.

by August Wainwright on April 25, 2013 at 5:10 am. Reply #

[…] Another voice chimes in here, and is definitely worth the read! […]

by James Patterson Is A Prolific Author, But Kind Of Dumb | Angry Games on April 25, 2013 at 12:23 am. Reply #

Mr Patterson has a vested interest in the old fashioned paper publishing industry. He most likely doesn’t own the ebook rights to his hundreds of past ‘works’, so he needs those bookstores open to sell his product (which has become a long way from literature-so who is gate-keeping there).

He, like a lot of those authors, are most likely too scared to mix it up with the indies because maybe he won’t have all the advantages that he and the contrived best sellers have enjoyed in the past.
This story reminds me of that joke where God sends 3 boats, and a helicopter to save the religious guy who turns them away whilst awaiting a miracle and when he drowns and complains he wasn’t saved St Peter tells him I sent you 3 boats and a helicopter. Are you crazy?

Keep praying for the miracle, Turow, Patterson and the publishing industry, we are already on the boat.

by Susan May on April 25, 2013 at 1:31 am. Reply #

Exactly. Yes. Awesome comment Susan.

It just amazes me that the mentality of all these “established” authors (not all of them), even one who apparently accounts for $94 million a year, is that there’s only so much to go around and if they want to keep getting theirs, they have to make sure others don’t eat too. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

Authors, especially guys like Patterson, have the ability to be EVERYTHING in this new marketplace. Like Joe Konrath said in his piece, if Patterson recommended certain self-pub or indie books, he could essentially curate the “important literature” to make sure it’s still seen. He has that power. He could even start a company where, if he picked your book, you owe him 5% of all royalties or something. How many authors would jump at the opportunity to be featured by someone like Patterson. It’s a perfect example of how both sides can come out ahead.

But you’re right, it’s all about the vested interest, so it more than likely won’t happen.

by August Wainwright on April 25, 2013 at 5:20 am. Reply #

Great article. Patterson is such a bloater. I wasn’t entirely in agreement at the beginning as I’m an old fashioned, Kindle-resistant bookseller who loves the smell of brand new paperbacks 😉 I have witnessed first-hand the effect of Amazon et al on the high-street bookstore where I work (Waterstone’s, UK). It’s devastating but you’re correct that old-hat publishing practices are to blame. In desperation, Waterstone’s is actually trialling the download-while-in-store scheme you suggested above; we also sell Amazon Kindles, which is a bit bizarre since you can’t buy OUR eBooks on them. Not convinced it will save us from the sink but I certainly don’t blame advancing technology for being so clever. Great idea about providing cheap e-Readers pre-stocked with classics to poor families, too. Thanks for sharing.

by Hayley Morgan on April 25, 2013 at 1:47 am. Reply #

Hayley,

To be completely honest, I’m old fashioned too. I come off like I couldn’t care less about physical copies, but I absolutely do. A few months ago, I was at the Cambridge University Press bookstore and almost had a stroke from the awesomeness of the place – even with the crazy high prices. I also have a shelf full of leather bound editions I’ve collected. I love books.

But what any one individuals preference is has nothing to do with where the marketplace is moving, and that’s the main point.

It’s amazing to hear that Waterstone’s actually trying some new things. I’m hopeful (more like wishful) that Amazon will see the light and open up their store to other ebook formats, because it really could help bookstores and authors alike. It would only make them more money.

But, still, the single biggest thing that could help save bookstores is if publishers started changing their models and the prices of physical books came down. It’s the publishers who are causing the “suffering”.

Thanks for the comment and I hope to see you here again.

by August Wainwright on April 25, 2013 at 5:30 am. Reply #

I totally agree with your comments to Patterson’s ridiculous statements. The industry is changing and evolving and those who can’t/won’t adjust their way of thinking need to blame someone else!

by 24/7 in France on April 25, 2013 at 2:52 am. Reply #

Great article. Unvarnished truth.

by Mrinal Bose on April 25, 2013 at 4:16 am. Reply #

Well put. Thanks for the detailed breakdown and analysis of the original post. I think everyone has been smelling the fear coming off trad publishing for a while now. This, as well as the desperate mergers, goes to show that they need to adapt and adapt fast if they want to survive. Their business model HAS to change. I think many people (agents particularly) have realised this now and are exploring their options.

by AD Starrling on April 25, 2013 at 5:11 am. Reply #

Great post. One of the things I’ve found most interesting about the revolution in publishing is the logical fallacies it seems to reveal, and one of the primary ones is the conflation of a function with the entity that has traditionally provided the function.

What we call “publishing” is a collection of functions essential to turning a manuscript into a finished book and making it available to readers. Editing, copyediting, proofreading, cover design, packaging, printing/formatting, distribution, marketing — this is “publishing.” These functions will always be essential — but it doesn’t follow that the functions will always be provided in the same way, or by the same entities. Patterson’s fallacy is equivalent to someone decrying the advent of the pen, “because how will we be able to write without quills?”

No. The quill is a way of writing. It isn’t writing itself. Legacy publishing is a way of publishing (and an increasingly creaky one, at that). It isn’t publishing itself.

Why does someone as intelligent and well-meaning as Patterson not understand this? Because of another thing the revolution in publishing has revealed (not that any further proof was required, but still): that most people are reactionaries. And people are especially likely to find themselves in the grip of a reactionary world view when the world they’re looking at has worked out well for them personally.

by Barry Eisler on April 25, 2013 at 5:14 am. Reply #

Hey Barry, thanks for stopping by.

You know, this is just one of those things that sort of reiterates an idea I’ve been playing around with lately:

Almost all societal struggles (and I’d call what we are in the middle of a “writing society” struggle) are between two groups; the first is the group that is embracing the change and trumpeting the coming shift in power, and the second which is the group that is losing power, and will say and do anything to keep things the way they were when they gained the power.

Now what’s interesting there is that, give it enough time, and the first group will become the second.

BUT, every once in a while, you get someone who is currently in power and yet stops to realize where he came from. He/she understands that everything is in a constant state of flux, and that if they don’t adjust to the coming evolution, they will lose everything they’ve worked for, everything they stood for. These people are rare but when they come along, they are leaders of generations.

We could sure use a few of those people in the publishing marketplace today. It’s really too bad that Patterson won’t be a person we can look up to, choosing instead to spew such drivel.

by August Wainwright on April 25, 2013 at 7:26 am. Reply #

Government doesn’t ‘protect’ anything: they simply trample on one person’s rights in an attempt to prop up another’s. Liberals like Patterson never understand this concept. The individual is the source of all great things in this world.

All great literature, and popular tripe featuring the likes of Alex Cross, comes from individuals – it did in 1910 and it will in 2210, only the promotion/distribution platform will change.

by bpressey on April 25, 2013 at 5:39 am. Reply #

Ayn Rand? Is that you?

Excellent point. Couldn’t agree more.

by August Wainwright on April 25, 2013 at 7:06 am. Reply #

Good points. I was resistant to the idea of ebooks for years, but in 2010 I got a third-gen Kindle, I thought “hey, this doesn’t suck!”

About two minutes after that, I thought “there has GOT to be a way to make money off this thing.”

Turns out, there was. :)

The old publishing system was nice for publishers, but unpleasant for both readers and writers. The new system sucks for the old middlemen, but it’s better by far for both readers and writers.

by Jonathan Moeller on April 25, 2013 at 6:57 am. Reply #

A bailout? Brilliant!

I’m just very glad that companies who made things like 8-track tapes, tractor feed printers, and carbon paper didn’t have Mr. James I’ll-Stick-My-Name-On-Anything-And-Make-It-Sell Patterson around to suggest bailouts for them! Or those poor monks who slaved over their inkwells in candlelight to copy books by hand. Those guys definitely needed a bailout.

Mr. Patterson, Mr. Turow, stop. Just. Stop.

by Alan Tucker on April 25, 2013 at 7:41 am. Reply #

Recently I visited my neighborhood B&N. I spoke with the lady who manages the store. I offered to provide free talks on the subjects of my travel ebooks.
Her reply? “Show me a hard copy and tell me when I can have it in my store or I am not going to spend a cent of my store’s resources on it!” After a few comments back and forth…”Ebooks are a fad and print will never go away!”
She owed me nothing of course but watchout Borders, B&N is coming after you.
btw I just celebrated my 76th and have no plans to ever put anything on paper for sale. ebooks suit me fine but please catch up. Tablets are taking over. When they have E Ink available in a tablet I will buy one.

by john d m myer on April 25, 2013 at 10:22 am. Reply #

Great response to a ridiculous ad. Beyond the Salon interview, I really hope Patterson responds to some of the great points people like you and Konrath have made. But I’m sure he’ll disappear ‘Turow style’.

By the way, this is from the B&N web site:
“Visit any Barnes & Noble store with your NOOK in hand, and read entire NOOK Books FREE for up to one hour per day with FREE Wi-FI®.”

I thought this was a cool feature when I bought my Nook a couple years ago, but never ended up taking advantage of it. When I can get so many ebooks for less than $5 (or free) and read them wherever I am, the incentive to drive to a B&N to read a free Nook book for an hour loses it’s appeal.

But I do love your idea better…read any Nook book as long as you want while at B&N, then the book disappears from the device as you leave the store.

by Jason O. on April 25, 2013 at 11:07 am. Reply #

Thanks Jason.

I actually had no idea B&N does that with NOOK. My wife has a NOOK and she’s never once brought it into a B&N store. We even had a discussion about it.

Maybe B&N’s problem is that they are really bad at advertising.

by August Wainwright on April 25, 2013 at 2:39 pm. Reply #

Readers. That is the answer to James Patterson’s question. If readers want classics, they will seek it out. If their local library has an enticing selection, they will go there. If the book store has what they want, they will shop there. Patterson is just a jackass trying to put fear in people’s minds about ebooks. Let the readers decide where they spend their money. It’s all about the readers. Obviously, Amazon is doing something right. I love having easy access to stories written by self published authors. Readers like a wide selection of books to choose from. And just for the record, I can find just as badly written shit in Barnes and Noble just as easily as I can find low quality shit on the web. It’s a risk an avid reader takes with paper books and ebooks, and I do read both formats.

by Van on April 25, 2013 at 5:17 pm. Reply #

I feel sorry for Patterson, Turow et al.

What this REALLY is: They can’t adapt. They can’t even conceive of what it would take to adapt. There was, by way of comparison, a significant portion of an older generation of office workers who simply could not adapt from pushing paper to using a desktop PC. Computers were newfangled things and they simply could not, did not, want to learn how to use them. They retired or moved down into businesses that were further away from adopting IT, until they simply aren’t in the workforce anymore.

These old authors are similar. They’ve been pumping out rough drafts and shipping them off to publishers for their entire careers. The closest any of them has come to hiring for their “business” is a personal assistant to do the grunt work of scheduling trips and daily life.

They cannot fathom switching from doing that to being what an indie author really is: a small businessperson who wears many hats beyond the writing itself. And it’s weird, because a lot of them make so much money that they could easily build that small company and employ people to do all the jobs that the publisher’s done for them in the past, and STILL keep far more profit than they have ever received from the publisher (because really: Patterson may have made $94 million in a year, but who here thinks an audit of the publisher wouldn’t uncover a bunch more he was owed but not paid? 😉 ). AND they’d be providing work for others who contribute to the production of the end product. AND they’d have more control over what that end product looks like. And… and… and…

So really, just feel sorry for them and don’t waste too much time worrying about them – their time is ending, and they’re going to wail and flail as it goes, but 10 years from now will it matter what they said? They will eventually adapt, or their careers will end.

by Mia on April 26, 2013 at 5:35 am. Reply #

Ebooks can also keep great books available, too. One of my favorite writers is Peter Ho Davies, a literary short story author. By the time I discovered him, his first book (which was super critically acclaimed) was out of print. I looked for years to buy a used copy, but with no luck. A few years ago, his publisher released the book as an ebook and I was finally able to read it. There are plenty of great books that the traditional publishing industry has been unable or unwilling to keep in print because they don’t sell as well as Patterson’s books.

by Julia Gabriel on April 26, 2013 at 6:12 am. Reply #

Great article! It always amazes me that when the big boys in an industry get threatened by new technology, the first thing they do is go to the government and try to stop the threat with legislation. That is not the way capitalism works; you get to the top by being the best (be that best product, best service, best marketing). The only way to stay on top is by staying an innovator…not by getting the government to grant you a legalized monopoly.

by Alex Reissig on April 27, 2013 at 4:25 am. Reply #

B&N has allowed Nook owners read most ebooks (I’m not sure if it’s all ebooks) for an hour a day in the store since the first Nook was released. I usually don’t stick around long enough to know if you can spend the entire day reading an hour’s worth each of 12 books. I found it useful when I was looking at travel books before a trip. They might not be advertising this benefit anymore (and most of their stores seem to have downsized their collection of comfy chairs), but I believe it was prominently displayed with the original eInk Nook.

My biggest gripe about Patterson’s bailout plan is that he’s advocating bailing out the big 6 publishers who are still settling out of court for price-fixing/anti-trust (except for Random House, who didn’t participate). The ones which aren’t owned by big private German companies are reporting their profits are back to pre-recession levels. 2 of the other 4 publishers are foreign multinationals, too. If I’m going to pay taxes to bailout companies, I’d like them to be American companies.

by Bruce on April 27, 2013 at 8:40 pm. Reply #

Bruce,

Yea, someone else mentioned B&N offered the “1-hour rental” service. I had no idea and neither did my wife (who owns a NOOK). And, seriously, what’s up with the fact that a 25,000 square foot store has 2 chairs – and how come they’re always taken by the guy who stares off into space and isn’t actually reading? What the hell?

As for the bailout idea, I would prefer not to pay taxes to bailout any industry company, American or otherwise, especially when they are “suffering” because of their own stupidity. That being said, I read yesterday, that a few of the Big 6/5 are back to posting high profits – not sure of the validity of that yet though.

by August Wainwright on April 30, 2013 at 10:13 am. Reply #

[…] James Patterson Wants Bailout Money. Wait, What? by August Wainwright […]

by Praise Sunday: Best Blogs (w/c April 28th) | I am a heathen. on April 28, 2013 at 2:46 pm. Reply #

[…] But yet, as soon as they see things changing (which is always much much later than everyone else), they go running right to the government begging for help.” SOURCE […]

by Buzz Worthy News: 29th April 2013 | Cuddlebuggery Book Blog on April 29, 2013 at 7:07 am. Reply #

[…] publishing industry, and maybe the bookstore. But such thinking ignores the point, as book blogger August Wainwright says in a thoughtful follow-up.  As Wainwright says in his post, “What’s besieging the industry is the fact that they […]

by Conflicts in Publishing Between What Readers Want and What they Get | Beneath the Cover on April 30, 2013 at 7:43 am. Reply #

The concept of Patterson as the defender of great literature, it is hard to get past that to comment on what I suppose one would call his “ideas”. However, those ideas stop at “I made a lot of money selling in B&M stores, so the government should protect them.”

REALLY? Mr. Patterson, the government is supposed to step in and protect your millions and the publishers who supposedly “produce” literature by underpaying most authors who do the work.

I don’t think so. I do NOT think so.

by J. R. Tomlin on April 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm. Reply #

The problematic issue with the ‘Patterson Ad’ is begging for the government to save the Publishing Industry under the guise of ‘please help protect literature’. Literature doesn’t need protecting. The establishment needs saving, because, apparently, it’s incapable of saving itself. Just like the automotive industry turned out to be incapable of saving itself.

However, the automotive industry is incomparable to the publishing industry. Self-publishing is older than the publishing industry. Many authors who wrote ‘literature’ were, in fact, self-publishing their literature long before there was a publishing industry. In fact, the only comparison between the automotive and the publishing industry is that automation and mass-production killed the cottage industry. Self-publishing became expensive and difficult. Also, the book stores didn’t sell ALL books. They sold selective books, published by publishing companies. Which made self-publishing a fool’s errand and laughing stock, so writers weren’t considered ‘serious authors’ if they couldn’t break through the gatekeepers, who were not really looking for the next literary talent, but for the next commercially viable literary talent. And who can blame an industry for not representing quality, but commercial viability. So, people with money to set up a business to publish books became ‘the establishment’. And the publishing establishment is not interested in publishing good quality literature unless it’s also commercially viable.

Of course, commercial viability in publishing ‘literature’ is a hit-and-miss proposition. Many literary books deemed commercially viable fail. So, the publishing industry sells a lot of books that cannot be called literature by a long shot to cover the cost of these failures.

So now, here comes a way to publish without getting a second mortgage to cover the costs. And your self-published book will be in the same stores as the trade published books. So, where is the threat for the publishing industry? If the publishing industry is so threatened by these self-publishing upstarts, is it that they are unable to find suitable competition for the self-published crap that threatens them? Or is it because they think that readers won’t care about quality and just go for the cheap books selling for less than publishers can afford to dump their own crap? And if they’re incapable of dealing with such issues, should they be saved?

by Martyn V. Halm on May 1, 2013 at 11:16 am. Reply #

All great points Martyn. There are countless ways that these publishing mega-corps COULD take advantage of the shift in the marketplace, but instead they cry foul. If just one of them tried to meet authors half-way, they would probably become the most powerful publisher on the planet overnight.

You want to compete with Amazon? Then create an environment that authors prefer over Amazon. It’s just that simple.

by August Wainwright on May 1, 2013 at 1:57 pm. Reply #

[…] my recent article “James Patterson Wants Bailout Money. Wait, What?“, I […]

by The Possible Resurgence of Barnes & Noble | August Wainwright on May 15, 2013 at 10:16 pm. Reply #

[…] about it. Most publishers marketing bucks go to authors who don’t need it, like James Patterson (have you seen his latest commercials […]

by Who Are You & Why Are You Interesting? Marketing Plan for Writers (you’re welcome) | Kit Frazier on February 19, 2015 at 8:40 am. Reply #

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