My thanks to Greg Epstein via Facebook for recommending Daniel Menaker’s assessment of publishing over at barnesandnoblereview.com.
What particularly strikes me about Menaker’s assessment is his willingness to acknowledge that the business model is dysfunctional. Hell, years before computers graduated from room-sized government projects to desk-stealing boxes for rich individual to have as a status symbol (we’re talking about the mid-80s here, for folks not around for those days), the writing was on the wall as far as the direction things were going. The fact that the technology has now caught up to and encroached on Publisher’s Row like a brigantine on a flyut makes the flaws in business as usual even more apparent, and the fact that no one came in and reformed the system before now a tragedy.
Beyond that, the account reads much like one from a Spanish governor stepping down from managing a fief in Nueva Espania, discussing how the Crown could have gotten more to show if they protected the sea lanes from rovers better. I realize that he’s not in a good position of acknowledging that maybe the days of writers requiring the old houses to carry their words to the masses are coming to an end, but I will give him credit for not being blinkered to the threats just off shore to the old way of life doing business.
If nothing else, it’s worth a few moments to read.