A reader writes:

I have to disagree with the earlier reader who stated that publishing doesn't "deserve to die" because he's seen "great people sweating blood and tears to promote [books]."  And what a telling choice of words -- "promote" -- because the publishing industry, really, is just a marketing industry, as you've stated before.  No other industry, except, perhaps, Hollywood, prides itself so thoroughly upon cliquishness.  As an insider, I can tell you that I know of no other industry where a press release won't even be read unless the editor is on a first-name basis with the journalist.

It is an industry where agents only get work from editors, and editors only get work from agents. Where the writers are taken out of the process entirely in order to "protect" them.  Where massive chain bookstores only stock books which are on the bestseller list (or have been at some time in history), and as a matter of practice tear the covers off of books, ship them back to the publishers and THROW AWAY the books, because actually shipping them costs too much.  Yet, these same stores will not stock even one print on demand book (the wave of the future), because they are not "returnable" -- even when they rarely return a book to the publisher in the first place. 

As a result, the entire industry, from writer to agent to editor to retail chain, is dependent entirely upon the massive success of an ever-shrinking number of "blockbuster" titles, while less sure bets get less and less attention, even while the books' handlers still take just as much in percentages an royalties as they do for the blockbusters while doing a fraction of the work and encouraging the writer to do none of it.

The publishing/marketing industry is not an industry which deserves to die.  It's an industry that appears to be trying to.

Amen. That's why we're publishing our own book.

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