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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

James Patterson Wants Government to Bail Out Book Industry

Renowned author, James Patterson, has placed rather aggressive ads in both the New York Times Book Review and Publishers Weekly lobbying good ole Uncle Sam to come to the aid of the book industry.

Mr. Patterson fears that without printed-on-paper books, literature will somehow dissipate and in his words: “A lot of it had to do with getting kids reading.”

Some observations and clarifications (from my foggy mind’s point of view):

- It’s interesting that he uses the term ‘book industry’ and not ‘publishing industry’ ---      The publishing industry, as a whole, is doing just fine.

- And ‘book’ has to be books-in-print media only - that are selected, published and marketed (also selectively) under an older business model that has become known as traditional publishing.

- Books today are not going away they are just coming in more enhanced formats, which will enhance literature not dissipate it.

- More kids are reading today (and sooner) than ever before in history since the advent of digital and devices.

Tonight we are going to present his interview with Salon in which he discusses his fear for the loss of literature and print books.

Two things before the interview, however:

1) The only thing constant in life is change itself. I dearly love print books and don’t feel they will EVER go away totally. But, there are those (throughout history) that can’t accept change as easy as others and fight it to no end --- Compare it to a big cruise liner heading North; the passengers can walk East & West and all around the decks all they want - but it won’t change the direction of that ship – it is still heading North (inevitable change, meant to occur).

2) Because I advocate for accepting the new digital publishing structure (even with initial faults), getting absorbed and involved in it and making improvements, does not mean I’m against improving the print book system and making it competitive as well in the modern market --- Let’s be honest, though, the TP model, before being challenged, was extremely inefficient and it doesn’t need a handout/s to be the same - it needs to get business-wise and more competitive --- It needs MANAGEMENT.
Salon interview by Daniel D'Addario:

James Patterson speaks out about his aggressive “book Industry bailout” ads

The bestselling author placed high-profile ads asking the government to bail out books. He talks to Salon.

James Patterson is in no need of a bailout.
The author of bestsellers including “Along Came a Spider” and “Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas” currently occupies spots on four different New York Times bestseller lists with three discrete books. (Those would be “Alex Cross, Run”; “Now You See Her,” written with Michael Ledwidge; and “I, Michael Bennett,” written with Ledwidge also.)
Despite his success in a strain of genre fiction not often recommended in classrooms, Patterson has become, suddenly, the closest thing the publishing industry has to an ambassador. The multimillion-seller author placed an ad last weekend in the New York Times Book Review and in Publishers Weekly (depicted below) advocating for government intervention — the same sort of bailout Goldman got — in order to save an industry besieged by bookstore closings and consolidation of the few remaining major publishing houses.
Patterson cited books including William Styron’s “Sophie’s Choice,” Joan Didion’s “Year of Magical Thinking,” and Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” in service of his argument that the American publishing industry has, historically, been able to produce enduring classics — and that its power will be gravely foreshortened, and the number of classics limited, by  attenuated publishing and bookselling industries.
Salon spoke to James Patterson about his decision to publish the ad, and what comes next in the mission to save American book publishing.
Tell me about the decision to place the ad.
I do a lot of things to try to raise level of awareness of what’s going on in country right now. This is an unusual and different time for books, the most unusual in the history of this country. E-books are fine and dandy, but it’s all happening so quickly, and I don’t think anyone thought through the consequences of having many fewer bookstores, of libraries being shut down or limited, of publishers going out of business — possibly in the future, many publishers going out of business.
A lot of it had to do with getting kids reading. I have a site for school librarians, teachers, and kids to go to — readkiddoread.com. It’s a fairly big site: it does a fair amount of good. And I will have 400 scholarships for teachers at 21 universities this year. I’m giving 300,000 books.
So do you think a bailout of books is actually realistic? Or was it a kind of purposefully outlandish “Modest Proposal“?
I don’t think it’s a question of bailing out, necessarily. In Germany, Italy, and France, they protect bookstores and publishers. It is widely practiced in parts of Europe. I don’t think that’s outlandish. But people have mixed feelings about the government doing anything right now.
I haven’t thought about it but I’m sure there are things that can be done. There might be tax breaks, there might be limitations on the monopolies in the book business. We haven’t gotten into laws that should or shouldn’t be done in terms of the internet. I’m not sure what needs to happen, but right now, nothing’s happening.
The press doesn’t deal with the effects of e-books as a story. Borders closing down is treated as a business story. Where we are in Westchester during the summer, you’d think that’d be a bookstore haven, and there’s nothing. And that’s not unusual. I don’t think we can be the country we’d like to be without literature.


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