|Publishers Weekly and the Patterson ad|
-- James Patterson
The great James Patterson machine has swung into action -- in defense of traditional publishers.
This past weekend, James Patterson took out ads on the cover of PW, in The New York Times Book Review, and in Kirkus asking the questions "Who will save our books? Our bookstores? Our libraries?" and listing a number of classic books like The Sound and the Fury and A Wrinkle in Time.
Without traditional publishers, along with all the traditional editing and so forth, there will be no more great books.
"This is hopefully starting a dialogue," Patterson said to PW. "I hate sitting around and talking; I like to do things."
Specifically, Patterson expressed 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. "Publishers are sitting around saying: 'Woe is me.' Get in attack mode," Patterson said. The problem continues with media coverage, as Patterson said the same article about the book business being in trouble--with little information beyond that and little mention of possible solutions--is being written over and over. "That article is not worth running," he said. "The New York Times needs to wake the fuck up."
Predictably, Joe Konruth, the great supporter and promoter of the digital revolution has seen red.
"I'm not finding much to agree with here," he writes.
Along with lots of argument, he produces an evocative story.
"I'm reminded of the story behind the publication of The Confederacy of Dunces," he writes. "The author, John Kennedy Toole, was rejected by publishers, was supposedly very upset about it, and eventually killed himself. His mother took up the cause to publish the book posthumously, and eventually it was -- by the Louisiana State University. And then it won the Pulitzer."
Would the result have been different if Toole had published with KDP? Who knows?
The point is that the traditional publishing machine passed on a classic book.
Personally, I think that the James Patterson machine could do a great deal more to help publishing and newbie writers than take out expensive adverts that lead to a lot of inconclusive debate. After all, he has ninety-eight million dollars a year to play with.