The Gatekeepers know the gates are crumbling

One of the chief beneficiaries of the crumbling system, James Patterson, makes a ludicrous pitch for a bailout of the publishing industry that is quite rightly ripped apart by Kenton Kilgore:

Recently, mega-author James Patterson took out an ad in the New York Times Book Review asking for the government to bail out libraries and the book publishing/selling industry….  In his ad, Patterson asks, “If there are no bookstores, no libraries, no serious publishers with passionate, dedicated, idealistic editors, what will happen to our literature?  Who will discover and mentor new writers?  Who will publish our important books?”

So, the three-headed serpent that is Big Authors + Big Publishing + Big Distributors–the same serpent that made Patterson and his partners rich by cranking out about 10 of his books every year–is eating itself.  Well, we can’t have that!  What would be our society be without the ”important books” that Patterson lists in his ad–as well as his splatterfests named after lines from nursery rhymes (Along Came a Spider, Kiss the Girls, Pop Goes the Weasel)?  And what about Twilight?  And the collected masterpieces of Danielle Steel?

It’s more than a little amusing to me that while a brilliant businessman – if shameless literary hack – like Patterson can see what is taking place in the publishing world, the idiot parasites who have taken over the SFWA remain totally clueless about those changes and are more concerned about chainmail bikinis and the fact that Mike Resnick and Barry Malzburg referred to a woman they knew forty years ago as a “lady” rather than as an editor in the SFWA Bulletin. 

(Believe it or not, that is the urgent DEFCON 1 situation to which Rapey McRaperson was referring and pledging his name, fame, and fortune to address this weekend.  That’s right; the SFWA is going to deal with its “problem” of the old guard by silencing them and ensuring that no new dissenting voices are permitted to arise.  You will RESPECT fat old women writing dreadful books about warrior women and necrobestial love triangles or you will be SILENT!)

It is going to be so much fun to watch these awful people shriek and scream as the cold equations of the publishing business gradually penetrate their thick, empty skulls.  I’ve been asked, on occasion, why I remain a member of the SFWA considering that only about ten percent of the active membership appears to share my perspective on the ongoing developments and the majority of the membership can’t stand me or the intellectual liberty for which I stand.  To which I can only respond: “Give up my front row seat to the auto-bonfire of the witches?  Are you mad?”

Simply reading the litany of sob stories and complaints that make up the greater part of the SFWA Forum makes for a pure and unadulterated pleasure for anyone with a sense of either justice or humor. And it is only going to get more entertaining as the economy implodes and the more publishers go the way of Night Shade Books. It will be a delight to see proud editor/authors forced to resort to the very independent publishing they once scorned as being intrinsically inferior… and then watch them flounder and fail as they belatedly discover that their “popularity” was artificial and mostly the result of superior access to the chief distribution channel.

As one who was briefly permitted entry by the gatekeepers through a side entrance, I perhaps have a more accurate perspective on the situation than most who are either purely insiders or outsiders.  I still have access to a number of executives at several major publishers, although, as it happens, none at the genre publishers.  And I can testify that the mainstream executives understand very well that their conventional business appears to be terminal, as increasing ebook sales at steadily falling prices are not be able to make up for the combination of a) declining print sales, b) vanishing print outlets, c) competition from independents.  It should get very interesting indeed when Barnes & Noble either files for bankruptcy or is acquired by Amazon.

The Gatekeepers are desperate because they are standing on walls that are turning to sand beneath their feet.  But do not miss the confession that is implicit in Patterson’s corrupt appeal; without their structural advantages, “serious publishers with passionate, dedicated, idealistic editors” cannot compete on a level playing field with independents writing books of which they do not approve.

Note, in particular, the adjectives “dedicated” and “idealistic”.  Dedicated to what ideals?  Patterson’s plea is an implicit admission of the very bias that Standout Authors such as Sarah Hoyt and Larry Correia have been describing, and which those who have benefited from it have so staunchly denied.