“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Moon, My Butt, And Other Very Big Issues That Occasionally Block Out The Sun

I do understand that e-publishing is proving a very liberating option for many writers, and that some are doing very well indeed from e-only publishing. What I don’t understand is why JA Konrath & Co insist on polarising the issue, and pitch it is as books vs e-books, with winner take all. Isn’t it possible for a writer (and his or her publisher) to accommodate those who like to read books and those who prefer to read on an electronic device? Seems like the simplest solution to me.
  One thing I don’t like about the debate is the way the e-evangelists are delighting in the prospects of dancing on the grave of traditional publishing. Your opinion on ‘gatekeepers’ et al notwithstanding, the decline of traditional publishing will see a lot of jobs to go the wall, and a lot of talented people out of work. Is that really something to celebrate, just so that we can pay $0.99 to read THE MOON, MY BUTT, AND OTHER VERY BIG ISSUES THAT OCCASIONALLY BLOCK OUT THE SUN?
  Anyway, the latest missive from the Dark Lord, aka John Connolly, offers his thoughts on the same subject. To wit:
“It’s one of the reasons why I find myself growing increasingly angry with those of my peers who seem to have divested themselves of any loyalty to bricks-and-mortar bookstores in favour of a rush to solely electronic publishing, too ignorant to even be ashamed to use phrases like “dead tree publishing” or “legacy publishing” about the beauty and usefulness of a printed book. Hey, guys and gals: those bookstores, chains and independents, that you’ve apparently abandoned to their fate were the making of you all, and you were very willing to badger their owners into stocking your books when they were the only game in town. I’m as happy as anyone to take my royalties on e-book sales, and I’m grateful to the companies that distribute me in that form, but I firmly believe that electronic publishing and printed books can co-exist in our brave new world, and I’d dearly like to see bookstores survive to take their place in that world, because it will be a poorer, coarser place without them. End of lesson.”
  Meanwhile, Conor Fitzgerald reviewed John Connolly’s THE BURNING SOUL for the Irish Times a couple of weekends ago, when he had this to say about Connolly’s narrative style:
“THE BURNING SOUL opens with a filmic bird’s-eye view of the setting, thanks to the presence of some ravens on loan from Edgar Allan Poe. Connolly confidently guides us into their malevolent little minds, then it’s up into the cold air again, down into a car and then into a character’s mind in a blending of first-person narration and omniscience that is reminiscent of Dickens. Indeed, as the epigraph of this book consists of an excerpt from GREAT EXPECTATIONS, I am confident that Connolly knows exactly what he is doing and how much he is risking, which, for me, is the mark of a highly accomplished writer now beginning to explore the limits of his chosen form.” - Conor Fitzgerald, the Irish Times
  Dickens, no less. For the rest, clickety-click here

4 comments:

Dana King said...

John is right, to a point. It's unseemly for some authors who have been well served by traditional publishing to bite the hand that has fed them quite well.

On the other hand (no pun intended), there are a lot of authors (like me) in whom traditional publishing has expressed little or no interest. I'm too old to moon over the pretty girl who may just be a tease; I'll look elsewhere. I'm truly sorry for those whose jobs get lost in the shuffle, but I am at a loss as to what I personally can do about it.

One more thing to be considered, though it does not wholly negate John's point. No publisher does an author a favor by publishing his book. They do it because they think they can make money from it. This is truer for larger publishers, but no one is going to take a loss. That's business, and there's nothing wrong with that. No matter how good the contract, or how long a relationship has been in place, write a few books that don't earn out and see how highly loyalty is regarded by those who currently run this industry.

Pepper Smith said...

I'm epublished through a small press, but don't see things as either/or. Both formats should be able to co-exist.

I suspect there's a certain vindictiveness in all the planned grave-dancing. 'Ha! I wasn't good enough for you, eh? Take that!' We writers are certainly known for having egos.

michael said...

I prefer e-books over print but respect those who prefer print. Todays society seems to enjoy labeling things by only their extreme views. Politics, smoking, books, seems you are on one side or the other or you don't exist.

I find Konrath's "screaming" to be annoying. But I am equally fed up with the whiny print lovers who see e-books as the coming of the apocalypse.

One out of six own an e-reader! The end of print! Uh, five out of six do not own an e-reader. Less than fifteen percent of book sales are in the e-book format. That means the other formats make up eighty five percent of book sales. Unless audio is doing better than I think, that is alot of print books sold.

POD means there will be print and bookstores as long as people want to read in that format.

Amazon is a bookstore too. It sells print books and e-books and the last time I looked it was employing people too. The bricks-and-mortar bookstores has to adapt. If Apple can succeed with bricks-and-mortar stores, why can't the bookstore?

Peter Rozovsky said...

Read books, read e-books, read newspapers, or remain ignorant, but use legacy as an adjective with respect to publishers or media, and be prepared to be derided as a smug, condescending shit. Cheers to Connolly for deriding that noxious phrase "legacy publishing."
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