"It's Terrifying For Publishers"

Betsy Phillips has a beef:

The conventional wisdom is that we're living in the era of the death of the book. This is, of course, ridiculous. We live at a time of unprecedented literacy. People love to read. They read all the time. You are, right now, in the middle of reading this.

But I have to say, after seeing the [above] "book trailer," I'm starting to feel like the death of the publishing industry is long overdue. If, for some reason, you can't watch this, it goes like this:

A novelist establishes that he lives in Park Slope, in Brooklyn, and that he is a douche who French-kisses his dog. He has a grandma and thus decided to write a book about meat, which is not really about meat; it's about family. The video literally starts out, "Oh, hello," like we've all for some reason decided to go to Jonathan Safran Foer's house and startle him in his study. It is a trailer that will make you want to immediately go to the bookstore and punch his book, on principle.

The million-dollar question is, will innovative marketing like Mr. Safran Foer's video help save Big Publishing?

Thanks to the Internet, anyone can write AND publish a book (through mechanisms such as lulu.com or other self-publishing ventures). You only need someone who will give you an ISBN and some CIP data, and your book looks as legitimate as a John Grisham novel to customers at Amazon.com. And with the rise of print-on-demand technology, you don't even have to have inventory.

So the question facing authors starts to be the same as the question facing musicians--do you really need the corporation, or can you do it yourself?

More here. I'm hosting a discussion of Jonathans book, Eating Animals, at the Historic Synagogue at 16th and I Street NW Washington DC this coming Tuesday at 7 pm.