Thursday, October 30, 2008

the cleansing power of economic depression

Los Angeles Times book editor David L. Ulin has written an opinion piece speculating on how the recent American economic, um, slowdown might actually be good for writing and publishing as we know it.

Some quotes of note:

"...publishers will scale back some of their higher-end advances, especially in regard to certain risky properties: books blown out of magazine stories, over-hyped first novels, multi-platform "synergies." At least, I hope that's what happens, because one of the worst trends in publishing -- in culture in general -- over the last decade or so has been its air of desperate frenzy, which far more than falling numbers tells you that an industry is in decline."

"...both publishers and writers have long since given themselves over to a blockbuster mentality, even in regard to books that wouldn't normally fit that mold. In recent years, this has meant an increased focus on "author platforms" (whatever they are), as well as a frantic embrace of all things new -- blogs, author websites, social networking -- as if this, rather than its contents, is what sets a book apart.

Don't get me wrong: I'm all in favor of new technology, new delivery systems, new venues where the conversation about literature might take place. But the unrelenting insistence on newness has led down any number of blind alleys..."

I'm not exactly sure how old this piece is because the Times seems not to date individual articles, but like cheese and a good cedar deck these thoughts are perhaps improved with aging.

Thanks to the professor for the link to this article.

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