Publishers are Copy Machines
"New York" Magazine has published an illuminating article about why book publishing is dying and how. Everybody is talking about it. Or should I say: chattering. The article isn't illuminating because it tells you anything about the death of book publishing, which I am perfectly willing to believe in.

The article is illuminating because it tells you about how book publishers think, and shows you why book publishing deserves to die in the first place.

I want to be civil. I want to talk to publishing like a useless academic, like how I was taught to talk to people in school, and which is how people in publishing all talk to each other. But book publishing is much older than I am, so maybe it can take a little sense.

You fucking ticks. You fucking greedy bugs. You bitch, bitch, and bitch about how nobody reads and about how nobody buys books and about what will all these poor AGENTS do, and about what will all these poor PUBLICISTS do, and about how will all these poor BOOK-INDUSTRY CONSULTANTS and MARKETING EXECUTIVES make a living now?

But don't you know that you were just a service, and that you were never a service for readers in the first place? No: you were a way for writers to make copies, and it turns out that you weren't very good at it. You were a big fucking Kinkos, and now writers have the internet, so why deal with all you assholes at all? What deal are you offering? Money? There's no money in it, you keep telling us. Fine. We just want to be read, and you have made goddamn sure that isn't going to happen. What you want to know is how fast you can turn our books into movies, or get us writing TV shows, or plop us down in front of TV cameras to discuss politics.

You raped the imaginations of the entire Western World for a hundred years, and now the imagination-hole of people who write is numb. I guess it was more like prostitutory exploitation -- although the sick kind, where you pay the five hundred dollars for the night, and THEN you open up your suitcase full of toys. You fucked the imaginations of all these creators and dreamers for a century and you sold those babies you made to the army and then you stuck the writers you fucked dry in the trunks of your towncars and buried them in the desert. And now new writers are having a hard time finding a reason to publish, to tell stories, even -- in some cases -- to continue living.

You are in love with movies and TV, because they are prettier than literature and they tell you pretty things. You don't see, or feel, or think like writers. How can you? You are shopkeepers. You treat writers like lonely children who are trying to shoplift, and so that's what they become under your "guidance."

I honestly don't care whether "publishing" lives or dies, because thank god, some very nice anarchists in the mountains invented a way for me to get my words to people in an uncensored, unfiltered way before you burned down publishing altogether and left everyone in the world stuck inside movie theaters, watching reruns, masturbating, saying the names of their favorite "celebs" over and over again while fingering their magenta-colored anal beads.

But here are some obvious things to consider:

Why are old movies free? They are free because it doesn't cost television producers any money to put them out there. So they give away those old flicks for free in order to market the idea of "movies" themselves. When you have a chance to watch every single movie by James Cameron before you are twelve years old, and when you see (on TV) that a NEW James Cameron movie is coming out, and that you can go see it at the SUPER TV for a negligible price, then you have to go see it immediately in order to keep your status among your peers. You don't want to be the one person at school who has to lie about the timbre and quality of that season's robots, kill shots, and cleavage.

Obviously, publishing companies ought to do the same thing with old books on the internet, especially all those old books whose rights are being squandered because they are "out of print."

But you can't just put old free fiction books out there on the internet without context or sense. You've got to make them look pretty, and you've got to make them easy to read online. Republishing a book online doesn't just mean sticking the text file up there and letting people download it. You have to make a new art out of it. You have to wean people off of the glut of images that is making them sick, and give them something to believe in -- the infinity of their own minds, spirits, and creative powers. Of space.

Also, what can you beat Amazon at? What have you got going for you that a California shipping company doesn't have? You can't beat them at marketing, or at advertising, or at any of that bullshit. But you CAN beat them at integrity. You can beat them at getting the best writers to write their best stories, and then believing in those stories as a written thing: as language on a page that does not need to be filmed or reenacted.

Additionally, don't let those single-breasted fools sell you out on the Kindle by pretending it is anything more than a see-and-spell for adults. The Kindle is a cheap hustle designed to confuse and bewilder liberal artists while Amazon centralizes power. Look, sad-sacks -- you aren't reading this on a Kindle are you? Why not? It is text on a page, right? What is an ebook exactly?

An "ebook" is just another damn proprietary con, like all those Apple products you love so much.

Anyway, I'm not going to tell you how to run your business. I'm glad I'll never, ever have to deal with any of you people as long as I live. You made my generation hate reading and now you want writers from my generation to write your books?

Good fucking luck!

The publishing industry is Chancery Court, and sitting around waiting for the matter of Jarndyce and Jarndyce to get settled -- or the publishing industry to figure itself out -- is a good way to waste your life. I intend to have fun as a writer, instead, and part of me will be glad to see you go.

According to the "New York" Magazine article, you have burned more books than any Fascist dictator ever did. I always suspected.

Posted by miracle on Wed, 17 Sep 2008 09:50:54 -0400 -- permanent link

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