More Links? Yes, More Links…Got a Problem with That?

by Patrick on April 1, 2009

Someday I’ll have something substantive to say.  Until that day, thank god other people have websites!

  • This has already been noted elsewhere, but click through and read this post at Black Plastic Glasses on “Why Ebooks Must Fail.” (And, as always, read the comments.)  If I’m understanding it correctly, the argument in this post is more or less that ebooks won’t generate enough revenue to sustain the publishing industry.  Okay, except that, other than folks who work in the publishing industry, nobody really cares about this.  The post reminds me a bit of the passage in Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody in which he discusses the scribe who wrote a book called “In Praise of Scribes.”  This scribe, feeling threatened by the printing press, wrote a treatise on all the ways the scribe benefits from inscribing.  The problem was that everybody else benefited from the printing press, so that’s what won out.  One particular comment caught my eye:  Brian says “What I find odd in some of the comments is the outright animosity toward publishers, and the excitement in the idea of eliminating them as useless figures standing in your path to glory.”  I’ve never understood this either.  Whenever someone writes a blog post about an independent bookstore closing, there are invariably a few people who leave comments that say, more or less, “Good riddance!”  I guess watching the free market in action gives some people incredible joy.  I happen not be one of those people.
  • More forward-thinking is Richard Nash’s recent post chronicling Penguin’s half-hearted attempt to “get with this whole internet thing” by reaching out to bloggers.  As he says:  “If anyone in our industry thinks that this forum is a meaningful response to the failure of New Thinking for Old Publishers, things are actually somewhat more fucked than I thought. The gauntlet thrown down was not thrown at the publicists. They happened to be there, because they are somewhat more willing to face the public than other people in the publishing business (which is why Peter Miller felt justifiably hard done by—it was the most transparent and open people that were the ones that got smacked around…). The gauntlet was thrown at the CEO’s and Executive Committees. At the Board of Directors. At the people with Publisher in their title, and those above. They need to respond for real.” Nash has it just right here.  What the people at SXSWi were looking for was a suggestion of a new business model, a way that publishers can justify their existence in this new world where it’s easier than ever for everyone, anyone to publish a book.  [Note to Penguin:  I’m still open to talking, because there are still too many mistakes with pitching bloggers.  That’s just not the biggest problem publishing faces, not by a mile.]
  • And lastly, a bit of news that kind of ties together the world of the internet and some of the issues discussed in the Black Plastic Glasses post:  Peter Tarslaw, who writes the excellent blog End of Books, posted this yesterday, annoucing the sale of his debut novel to Grove/Atlantic.  GalleyCat followed that this morning with news that the advance is in the mid-seven figures…Except that he didn’t.  In fact, he isn’t.  There is no Peter Terslaw.  Peter Terslaw is in fact, Steve Hely, author of the book How I Became a Famous Novelist.  And, oh yeah, Steve got me big time.  See THIS is the kind of online promotion Penguin could take a tip from.  (Seriously, seven figures for a debut novel?  What was I thinking?  Oh, wait.)