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Old 04-25-2013, 11:23 AM   #1
fjtorres
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Bailout for Books?!!

Unavoidably, since the sky is falling in the land of the "Guardians of Culture", the clock has struck... Bailout Time!

It seems the manager of the biggest book assembly factory in the world has been running some prominent ads in the NYT (and elsewhere) to ramp up a campaign for the US Government to bailout traditional publishers. Yay!

Settle down folks, it's subsidy-advocacy time:

(Heh, this could get fun out there.)

On the Pro-side, the instigator himself, James Patterson, via Salon:
http://www.salon.com/2013/04/24/jame...y_bailout_ads/

Quote:
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.
Quote:
Do you see yourself at the forefront of a movement?

I don’t think we have a real strong spokesperson in the publishing community, someone who can stand up.
.
.
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I’m stepping up a little. But it’d be nice if it was the head of a publishing company.
The ad itself is... interesting...

On the Con-side... Well, now, who might have a few choice words? Hmm...
Let's see:
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/0...patterson.html

Quote:
While our nation does have an unfortunate history of helping the careless, uber-rich upper class continue to stay uber-rich by cleaning up after their greedy mistakes by using the tax money of the middle class, how about instead the publishing industry simply tries to compete? Maybe by embracing technology instead of repeatedly trying to halt its progress? Maybe by lowering the prices of books so more people had access to them? Maybe by treating authors fairly?
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.
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The Federal Government doesn't need to intervene. Unless they can somehow force every executive in NY Publishing to read my blog.
Plenty more on both sites.
Bring your munchie snack of choice.
(I'm not much for popcorn but I have some Pringles lying around.)

Last edited by fjtorres; 04-25-2013 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 04-25-2013, 11:29 AM   #2
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I can see maybe a tax break for indy bookstores themselves, but from what I understand the publishers are making money hand over fist (with such icons of high culture as snooki) and don't need a bailout.

Everyone points to Borders as being a casualty of the ebook wars, but from what i understand it was the result of decades of bad management.
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Old 04-25-2013, 12:05 PM   #3
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I can see maybe a tax break for indy bookstores themselves, but from what I understand the publishers are making money hand over fist (with such icons of high culture as snooki) and don't need a bailout.

Everyone points to Borders as being a casualty of the ebook wars, but from what i understand it was the result of decades of bad management.
Most Indy bookstores are small businesses and the likely qualify for any number of tax breaks and what-not. At this point any further aid would have to be upfront subsidies, most likely.
Now, the big boys... Well that is a whole different kettle.

I was just amused to see Patterson "stepping up" to "protect culture", bringing up bailouts himself, and specfically singling out the "Major Publishing Houses" as needing the bailouts.
Yeah, those giant multinationals, all headquartered outside the US, need taxpayer funding and nobody is going to make a populist issue out of it.
Nope, not at all...

When I first saw the ad and the Salon interview defending it my first thought was somebody had Onioned them.

I have to wonder if Turow put him up to it.
(Or, maybe, his last co-authored masterpiece drew a slightly lighter than usual advance?)
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Old 04-25-2013, 12:19 PM   #4
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I just quickly scanned the Patterson link.

I just find it weird that Patterson had a video on Amazon praising one of the early Kindles (a or 2, I've forgotten which). He also had a special edition Sony Reader (505?).

He's kind of all over the place.
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Old 04-25-2013, 12:39 PM   #5
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Absolutely no help whatsoever. It's time they woke up to the realities of progress.

Dylan sums it up best:

Then ya better start swimmin'
or you'll sink like a stone
for the times they are a-changin'
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Old 04-25-2013, 01:12 PM   #6
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If the publishers go under, they won't bring down the economy with them. Culture and literacy won't be harmed either. People would still buy books, people would till read, and people would still write. Authors would either self-publish or new publishers would arise, better adapted for the 21st century.
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Old 04-26-2013, 01:07 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuantumIguana View Post
If the publishers go under, they won't bring down the economy with them. Culture and literacy won't be harmed either. People would still buy books, people would till read, and people would still write. Authors would either self-publish or new publishers would arise, better adapted for the 21st century.
Yep. If there's likely to be an issue it's going to be that important works are lost in the noise rather than lost altogether.

I think we may lose authors who don't know how to compete in a new writing/publishing/marketing jungle, but new writers won't necessarily require the same adjustment as they develop different expectations from the start.

There's no reason to think that important works of literature will be a thing of the past just because of this paradigm shift, and I think best sellers will probably remain as they are now - fodder for the masses, and some will be better than others etc...
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Old 04-26-2013, 02:29 AM   #8
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Too snooty to fail?
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Old 04-26-2013, 11:28 AM   #9
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Yes, let's bail out the Big 6 publishers, 5 of which settled an anti-trust price fixing suit with the FTC and 49 states within the last 12 months. Isn't that a bit like rewarding bad behaviour, or at least telling everyone you're going to punish them and then letting them off with a slap on the wrist?

4 of the 6 are owned by 2 private German companies, one French company, and a British company, and one of the two American firms is owned by Murdoch's News Corporation, which only recently moved its incorporation from Australia to the US.

The demise of the bookstores isn't going to be fixed by bailing out the publishers anyway. It's a demand-side problem, the bookstore chains are losing customers to ebooks and other forms of entertainment and high discount small selection stores like Costco, Wal-Mart and Target. Bailing out the other end of the supply chain isn't going to help the bookstore chains at all, nor is it going to help the indie bookstores, many of which carry a lot of non-big 6 publishers.
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Old 04-26-2013, 01:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuantumIguana View Post
If the publishers go under, they won't bring down the economy with them. Culture and literacy won't be harmed either. People would still buy books, people would till read, and people would still write. Authors would either self-publish or new publishers would arise, better adapted for the 21st century.
Color me silly but I always thought this was the way things were supposed to be for all businesses, at least before the lunacy of the concept of ''bailouts'' took hold.
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Old 04-26-2013, 01:58 PM   #11
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If they fail, it won't be because of the demise of print or being unable to adapt to the changing market for books. It's because they grew too large and failed to make contingency plans to retool their production facilities to reflect current market needs, nor to shed off unneeded assets and labour, to reflect the changing market.
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Old 04-26-2013, 02:07 PM   #12
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Color me silly but I always thought this was the way things were supposed to be for all businesses, at least before the lunacy of the concept of ''bailouts'' took hold.
Bailouts are a natural consequence of the long-term worldwide trend of nationalist industrial policies, protectionist economic policies, and annointing "National champions" to be subsidized out of citizens' taxes.

Ventures have gotten used to the (Robin Hood in reverse) idea that when consumers choose not to willingly support your product (or special interest) with their money, they can always enlist the state's coersive power to take the money from the citizenry to benefit them. After all, it is easier to panhandle a handful of politicians than to adapt to changing realities and emerging opportunities.

Once you start using the government to shield and/or support companies (and special interests) regardless of efficiency, utility, or economic merit, the slope gets very steep and very slippery very fast.

Patterson bemoans that nobody from Big Publishing is stepping up to panhandle the government. Well, over at the Passive Voice blog, Barbra Annino has this dead accurate observation:

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/04/20...comment-100425

Quote:
So there’s this:

Profits Jumped 75% at Random House
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/b...-schuster.html

Profits Rise Again at Simon & Schuster
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/b...-schuster.html

Hachette’s profits return to post-Meyer levels
http://www.thebookseller.com/news/e-...er-levels.html

And then there’s this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012...hors-list-2012

James Patterson: $94 million

Stephen King: $39 million

Janet Evanovich: $33 million

John Grisham: $26 million

Jeff Kinney, $25 million

Bill O’Reilly: $24 million

Nora Roberts: $23 million

Danielle Steel: $23 million

Suzanne Collins: $20 million

Dean Koontz: $19 million

JK Rowling: $17 million

George RR Martin: $15 million

Stephenie Meyer: $14 million

Ken Follett: $14 million

Rick Riordan: $13 million

This is NOT an industry in trouble. This is NOT an industry that needs bailing out. If authors like Patterson and publishers are so worried that they might sink without bookstores, then why haven’t any of them tried to buy B&N? Why didn’t they put a bid in on Borders? Hell, why don’t they open their own stores and sell their own books?
The idea that that list of "usual suspects" needs to panhandle the citizenry to "survive" is ludicrous, especially in light of the current economy and a political climate dominated by populism on both ends of the spectrum.

At least the BPH crowd understands they would be laughed out of congress *for now*. I don't doubt they will eventually get their (very quiet) bailout snuck into one of the usual pork barrels but it won't be now and it won't be by wrapping themselves in "culture".
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Old 04-26-2013, 02:30 PM   #13
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Bailouts are a natural consequence of the long-term worldwide trend of nationalist industrial policies, protectionist economic policies, and annointing "National champions" to be subsidized out of citizens' taxes.
It could also be that citizens demand these bailouts. Sure, a great many of those citizens will complain about them, and even campaign against them, yet they always seem to support it implicitly when they choose the candidates who seek to create jobs through tax breaks and preserve jobs through bailouts. And who would blame them: the first order of business is always a roof over your head and food on the table.
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Old 04-26-2013, 02:45 PM   #14
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It could also be that citizens demand these bailouts. Sure, a great many of those citizens will complain about them, and even campaign against them, yet they always seem to support it implicitly when they choose the candidates who seek to create jobs through tax breaks and preserve jobs through bailouts. And who would blame them: the first order of business is always a roof over your head and food on the table.
Some citizens. Those with a vested interest in the panhandling.

If there were really a broad-based need among the taxpayers, you'd be looking at a Cyprus type of disaster. Those are (so far) rare. Fortunately.

Once the structures are in place for one reason or another, they *will* be used. Repeatedly.
Over and over, for less and less critical "crises" until they are routinely used for trivialities.

Subsidy culture is self-perpetuating the world over.

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Old 04-26-2013, 02:57 PM   #15
Fat Abe
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The U.S. government already subsidizes the agricultural, mining, petroleum and defense industries. I see nothing wrong with Congress paying certain authors not to write books, just as they pay farmers not to plant crops. I will even pay Patterson not to author another Alex Cross book.
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