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Demographic Realities of the Publishing Biz

Saeed Jones

In response to Buzzfeed’s book editor Isaac Fitzgerald’s feature “23 Writers With Messages For Straight White Male Publishing,” Paleo Retiree of Uncouth Reflections comments on the demographic reality behind the hate campaign:

I covered book publishing for more than 15 years as a reporter, up till the early 2000s, and during that time it was my impression that the editorial side of the business was about 3/4 female, and that many if not most of the men were gay. (It’s a very unappealing field for a straight white male to get involved in.)

And sure, IMHO at least, that fact definitely affects the kinds of books that get published. If boys are reading books less than they once did, that’s at least partly because books (especially fiction) have become a lot less alluring and entertaining (in a boy sense) than they used to be.

Another thing to recall: book-publishing gals don’t tend to be earthy, showbizzy, rock and roll, or motherly types. They’re English-major types, generally. Recall the smartest girls from your college Lit class — that’s the kind of person the book publishing industry is largely staffed by. In another era we wouldn’t have been shy about referring to many of them as librarian or even blue-stocking types. Not the sorts of people whose work is likely to attract the attention of a lot of irreverent, rowdy boys.

A few other demographic notes:

* Women moved into the business in large numbers during the same era when many of the old publishing houses were taken over by large conglomerates. Connection? I don’t know for sure … but maybe.

It’s almost as if laying off family men and hiring young women whose daddies pay their credit card bills is a good financial strategy for billionaires.

* There are very few black people in the business. The business’ values are about as NPR/PBS as can be imagined, so everyone in the field would love to see more blacks. And every five or so years people in the business put themselves through a bout of self-flagellation about the business’ lack of diversity. But blacks, although they have their own big verbal traditions, don’t have a big tradition of writing and publishing. (Don’t shoot me for saying that. Albert Murray and Ralph Ellison, great black intellectuals, both made the point.) And when they have verbal gifts and bother getting fancy lib-arts degrees they tend to go into more performance-oriented and potentially remunerative fields.

* There aren’t a lot Asians in the business either. When I asked an Asian woman publishing friend why, she told me that Asian parents, if they’re going to pay the big bucks for a kid to be educated at a fancy school, expect the kid to become an engineer or a doctor and make big money. She had to fight with her family a lot before they let her go into book publishing.

* There are indeed a lot of Jewish people in the business. Jews *do* have a big tradition of writing and publishing and, like educated Brits, who also have a huge comfort level with writing and publishing, they tend to do very well in the field.

* Back in the ’50s and ’60s book writing and book publishing were glamorous, adventurous, often money-losing, but a lot of male fun: “Mad Men” as it turned into the rock and roll era. Hard to imagine now, but book-writing and book-publishing could be ways for talented, brainy guys to show off their stuff.

You can see that in articles from 40 to 50 years ago by football and golf writer Dan Jenkins about his drinking buddies: the Manhattan writing-for-money business in 1969 was a blast. A lot of the most gifted writers of the era in New York City were hard-drinking Southerners.

As the business has become more dominated by conglomerates and more staffed by women, the testosterone thrills have gotten rarer and rarer. Talented and brainy guys who want to show off their stuff (and hope to make money doing so) became more likely to go into TV, movies, singer-songwriter-style music, and computers and videogames.

* I was once gabbing about these questions with a straight male friend in the business. He made a rueful face and said, “Thanks for reminding me what a pussy business I work in.”

And here’s a 2009 interview of interest on the publishing and media world.

 
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  1. Cost-Cutting Measures Force Company To Start Hiring More Female Employees

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/costcutting-measures-force-company-to-start-hiring,38334/

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  2. This reminds me of a section of Robert Heinlein biography that I once read. In the 1950s the editor of his “juvenile” series of science fiction novels was a woman. Heinlein was constantly infuriated by her attempts to impose an early form of PC censorship on his novels, e.g., removing all references to firearms. I forget the final upshot but as I remember it didn’t work out well either for Heinlein, the publisher, or the series.

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    • Replies: @cthulhu
    Heinlein waged a long battle with his spinster-librarian-type editor at Scribner's over his "juvenile" series, but my impression from his book "Grumbles from the Grave" (a collection of letters mostly) is that Heinlein felt he won the important battles. Since the juveniles were expressly aimed at the 13-17 year old boy demographic, a certain amount of action was required to maintain the target audience's attention.

    This all worked well until 1959's "Starship Troopers", when the shrinking violet editor simply couldn't countenance this militaristic affront to common decency any longer, and RAH decamped with the book to another publisher, who was glad to snap up a Heinlein juvenile, which as it turned out ranked right up there in quality with the best of them (say, "Have Space-Suit, Will Travel", or "Citizen of the Galaxy"). But RAH was about done with the juveniles anyway; I think there was only one more published ("Podkayne of Mars").

    When RAH died, one of the mainstream obituaries I read actually cited the juveniles as giving Heinlein a good deal of influence in the real world (as opposed to the world of literary criticism) because so many scientists and engineers had read those books in their teens. Just think about if he had started writing those books 15 years later; by the mid-60s, none of them would have been publishable as a new work by a not-so-well-known writer.
  3. Is there a need for new fiction for boys? The stuff I read was all punished 30+ years before I was born and was sufficient to keep by entertained. My favorites were Tow Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

    These days there isn’t even a need to periodically reprint the classics, they are all free online and even most poor people have tablets, which broke below $50 a few years ago.

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    • Replies: @fish

    The stuff I read was all punished 30+ years before I was born and was sufficient to keep by entertained.
     
    Awesome auto-correct bro!
  4. 1/ Fewer guys are going into a low renumerative, slowly disappearing field? feature not bug.

    2/ By my recollection a lot of great male writers of the past were heavily into the sauce. As that has become less acceptable you’d expect to have fewer great male writers. Sorry you have to live longer than Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Thomas, Chandler, Kerouac, Poe, Faulkner, Capote, and Thompson.

    3/ I suspect males with writing talent are finding other outlets for their talents like writing video games (yes they get written) , sniper screenplays, blogs (look at the long list at the right of the screen you’re reading right now dammit).

    4/ Let’s say that there are a lot of straight white males who would make great publishers, but aren’t being given the chance. It’s probably easier than ever to become your own Henry Regnery.

    Of course you would have to get off your behind to do that.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    I don't think talented writers are going into video games, judging by how bad the story lines and dialogue in video games are.
    , @syonredux

    2/ By my recollection a lot of great male writers of the past were heavily into the sauce. As that has become less acceptable you’d expect to have fewer great male writers. Sorry you have to live longer than Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Thomas, Chandler, Kerouac, Poe, Faulkner, Capote, and Thompson.
     
    And lots of great male writers did not have problems with alcohol: Hawthorne, Dickens, Thackeray, Mark Twain, Sir Walter Scott, William Dean Howells, Henry James, etc
  5. Basically, if you can’t make enough of a living with sufficient security to marry and raise a family most men won’t go into it, or stay very long. That’s why straight white cis-men are sparse in publishing, as well as journalism, as well as a number of other fields.

    There are some exceptions. For example, a number of people I knew years ago in fields like publishing, journalism, and particularly academia had a lot of family support: parents, wives’ families, and so on. But the bottom line is that the money has to be there, and if it isn’t, men will generally avoid it, because, in fact, having a career is not the only thing a man wants in his life.

    So what’s happening to all these bright young men with terrific senses of humor and great writing skills? From what I have seen with my kids and their peers, they end up doing work where their skills are superfluous, and they end up doing their writing for free, on their own time, on the web. I’m still not sure how that will play out in terms of 21st Century literary culture yet.

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    • Replies: @SFG
    I'm more optimistic than most of the people here, actually; it's easier to get to an audience without going through a NYT publishing house. Look at 50 Shades of Grey, which despite execrable writing (everyone admits this) showed America that ladies still like dominant, successful men. Look at the Sad Puppies campaign, which bypassed the clique running the Hugos.

    The tide is turning. Our hand is at their throats, yet they spy us only dimly... ;)
    , @Mr. Blank
    I know that traditional 20th century journalism is basically dead. That's the industry I'm in, and the future is quite grim.

    It's nearly impossible to find younger people with the proper skills who are interested in pursuing a career in traditional journalism these days -- even TV has a hard time with it. (This accounts for much of the decline in the quality of journalism over the past couple of decades.) It's not that the talent doesn't exist -- it's just that the kids with the right skills typically dip their toe in the water and then move on to something else once they find out how awful the pay is. I've seen the same thing happen again and again and again over the past decade: Some incredibly talented kid will come work for us, either as an intern or a cub reporter. They'll do terrific work for a short time -- then jump to a higher-paying career at the first opportunity.

    One young lady we hired was an absolute crackerjack reporter who could have easily gone on to a stellar career at some place like the New York Times. She was great at breaking stories; she seriously could have had a Pulitzer in her future. She left journalism to become a swimsuit model, where she made three times as much money.

    The industry right now is basically kept on life support by older folks like me, who stay because we don't know how to do anything else and we're too old to easily switch careers. There are a tiny number of younger folks who stay because they love it and they're able to rely on family financial support, but there aren't enough of them to keep the industry afloat. There's probably enough of them to keep a few big, establishment outlets like The New York Times supplied with talent, but that's about it. Once boomers start to retire in sufficient numbers, the lower rungs of the industry will die; they're in their last throes already.

    Basically, traditional journalism will probably go the way of jazz: a handful of elite performers, motivated entirely by passion, catering strictly to a well-heeled, insular, slightly snobbish audience. The real action will all be in rock and rap -- whatever their equivalents are in nonfiction writing.
  6. That’s a good choice of photo: Saeed Jones’ little message was one of my favourites. He’s right too that it was white men who chose to hand over our cultural institutions to this motley crew. Over the last few decades, white guys in senior positions scored points and avoided the threat of serious rivals by filling junior posts with this bunch of self-absorbed whiners.

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    • Replies: @Father O'Hara
    Among the 23,the black males were very hostile.Oddly the black females were a bit more conciliatory.The worst were the young Ugly/Queer bunch.Some evil McNasties there!
  7. “But blacks, although they have their own big verbal traditions, don’t have a big tradition of writing and publishing. (Don’t shoot me for saying that.”

    Black tradition of not writing and publishing also extends to their tradition of not liking to read books. Back when Oakland used to have a Barnes & Noble, I saw very few Negroes inside the couple of times I went there. If you want to be surrounded by a lot of Blacks in Oakland, avoid the bookstores and go to a Golden State Warriors game or a Walmart.

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    • Replies: @Trayvon Zimmerman
    Back in the 90's, some national organization of bookstores estimated that blacks, who were thirteen percent of the population, were buying one percent of the books sold in the country. Of course, they were lamenting that fact, and blaming whitey for it. But I doubt if that percentage has changed much at all, because the simple fact is that the vast majority of blacks have zero interest in reading. And the books they do buy tend to be trash, and I'm not talking about Toni Morrison or Maya Angelou level hogwash. I'm talking about stuff like Baby Momma Drama and Confessions of a Side Bitch.
  8. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @anony-mouse
    1/ Fewer guys are going into a low renumerative, slowly disappearing field? feature not bug.

    2/ By my recollection a lot of great male writers of the past were heavily into the sauce. As that has become less acceptable you'd expect to have fewer great male writers. Sorry you have to live longer than Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Thomas, Chandler, Kerouac, Poe, Faulkner, Capote, and Thompson.

    3/ I suspect males with writing talent are finding other outlets for their talents like writing video games (yes they get written) , sniper screenplays, blogs (look at the long list at the right of the screen you're reading right now dammit).

    4/ Let's say that there are a lot of straight white males who would make great publishers, but aren't being given the chance. It's probably easier than ever to become your own Henry Regnery.

    Of course you would have to get off your behind to do that.

    I don’t think talented writers are going into video games, judging by how bad the story lines and dialogue in video games are.

    Read More
  9. there was a company formed to address the need for boys fiction, often reprinting the a random house (*i think) series from the 1950s – i remember reading these- about the swamp fox, daniel boone, etc

    http://www.flyingpointpress.com/

    but like Mel Gibson’s Passion i think the modern publishing industry would reject a potential million seller if it went against their agenda.

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  10. @SPMoore8
    Basically, if you can't make enough of a living with sufficient security to marry and raise a family most men won't go into it, or stay very long. That's why straight white cis-men are sparse in publishing, as well as journalism, as well as a number of other fields.

    There are some exceptions. For example, a number of people I knew years ago in fields like publishing, journalism, and particularly academia had a lot of family support: parents, wives' families, and so on. But the bottom line is that the money has to be there, and if it isn't, men will generally avoid it, because, in fact, having a career is not the only thing a man wants in his life.

    So what's happening to all these bright young men with terrific senses of humor and great writing skills? From what I have seen with my kids and their peers, they end up doing work where their skills are superfluous, and they end up doing their writing for free, on their own time, on the web. I'm still not sure how that will play out in terms of 21st Century literary culture yet.

    I’m more optimistic than most of the people here, actually; it’s easier to get to an audience without going through a NYT publishing house. Look at 50 Shades of Grey, which despite execrable writing (everyone admits this) showed America that ladies still like dominant, successful men. Look at the Sad Puppies campaign, which bypassed the clique running the Hugos.

    The tide is turning. Our hand is at their throats, yet they spy us only dimly… ;)

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    "The Martian" was self-published but then Andy Reid switched to a New York publisher.
    , @BigGaySteve
    I thought 50 shades just showed what gold diggers would be willing to put up with for gold. Its not gay guys earning money in the private sector that are pushing for gay divorce and alimony to be possible.
  11. Most of the power and prestige that went along with literature has dimmed. The more abstract reason being the end of the Modern Ages with the written word at its center. More concretely, high literacy rates, cheap production, cultural fragmentation and collapse of the humanities have led the most generally ambitious and competitive in life to seek out other avenues of distraction to display their ambitious and competitive spirit. That leaves the publishing world with plenty of passionate and wonderful editors, writers and executives who can and will gain fame and riches in the right situations but live without the public maelstrom those generally ambitious and competitive types bring to all activities in which they commit themselves.

    These women, again and again and again, are late to this party. Which is probably why a lot of people in those stations of life who control these narratives are fine with crazies running around with “let me abolish you” placards- at no time will the young lady who held that placard ever be a real challenger to the status quo. Someone, probably well intentioned, spent a lot of time and effort encouraging and convincing her that she possessed literary talents, which may well be true, and that it was a respectable way to make something of herself; which was last true a generation before her birth- or about the same time period the person most likely encouraging her was at his or her most impressionable. In other words, she and many others of her ilk have been conditioned to chase after the past. And those in this position live a life seeking the trappings of power instead of attempting to grab the brass ring.

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  12. Straight white males in the publishing business?

    What straight white males in the publishing business?

    The corporate board? Who?

    If 85% are women and gays are overrepresented (5% ?) and there are a few non-white guys (Asians) 5%, that leaves 5% straight white guys.

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  13. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Hey Paleo Retiree: can I ask some advice of someone who’s been around a lot longer than me?

    I’m pretty much one of those dorky science types you said were revolutionizing commenting about arts, etc., and I’m wondering: I’d figure the ideal mate would be my opposite number, the librarian/English major types. However, they are pretty well corroded by feminism. What do you think the proper type of girl to go after would be? I know a lot of people here go for Game and weightlifting, and I’m sure those are really useful for the average guy, but I think I’m too far in the opposite direction to succeed by channeling that archetype, if you get my drift.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Find a young Chinese, Korean, or Vietnamese woman who is active in her church.
    , @CK
    Every small town has at least one cooking class. Larger places will have several classes in cooking. Take one, learn a bit of culinary skill, meet the hetero-normative slim ladies in the class who enjoy cooking.
    If you are lucky you will find one about half our age + 7.
    Ask her out for a drink or dinner and a drink or a literary lecture or a walk through whatever you find interesting in one of your local museums or Institutes or Galleries. Listen to her critically.
    Make decision.
    Now about that weightlifting thing. I am 68 diabetic and hefty. I hired a trainer and am lifting and machine training twice a week for an hour each. The belt has had to have one new hole punched in it already. I may never have a 7 pack nor lose all the heft but it is helping me.
    Finally remember that owning versus renting calculations apply to more than just real estate and cars.
  14. I just drove a ridiculous amount of hours ” travel sports” for my youngest son…and, I just laughed my body senseless watching ‘Archer’ when I got home – recommend.

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    • Replies: @fish

    I just drove a ridiculous amount of hours ” travel sports” for my youngest son…and, I just laughed my body senseless watching ‘Archer’ when I got home – recommend.
     
    Sometimes I'll do that at work after a particularly heavy meeting schedule.

    YouTube/Archer clips restoreth my soul!
  15. Since the death of Robert Giroux, the only straight white male left in publishing is Haven Monahan.

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  16. Marty [AKA "mel belli"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “…what a pussy business I work in.”

    Law’s the same way now, except for my side of the street, which is still pretty macho.

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  17. For about five years I was a regional sales manager for Meredith Corporation, with the Book Group. It was a great job, one of the high points of my career. But the editorial department was exactly as he said: NPR/PBS, and seriously English major female. Boring as hell. But selling experience, and the compensation, was outstanding.

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  18. As the country fills up with vibrant people from Latin America, Africa, and the Mid-East, perhaps the publishing business will become as vibrant and healthy as it is in Latin America, Africa, and the Mid-East. Is that what the captains of the publishing industry want? Good luck with that.

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  19. Many thanks for highlighting my comment, Steve. If anyone is curious about NYC book publishing from 1985-2001 or so, ask away. I’ll do my best to share what I know about it. It is, or at least was, an interesting field.

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    • Replies: @Anon
    Do you know an agent from that time who is still working and is friendly to males, white or non-white? It seems ridiculous that we don't have any new male writer of actual merit coming through the ranks. Was all of this female dominance in motion while you were in publishing in the 80s?
  20. The NY scene does not consider Wolfe high brow or literary. Anything but. There was a big fight after a Man in Full was published. Mailer, Updike and Irving went out of their way to cast Wolfe out as an author worthy of serious study or reading.Wolfe called them the “Three Stooges” and pointed out that his books had sold more than the three of theirs combined in the last couple of decades. They said that more than confirmed their judgments that Wolfe was a mere pulp, genre writer. Really, though, who’s made goofy money the last couple of decades in literary fiction? Cormac McCarthy’s The Road sold big and both of Franzen’s books were huge. Foer has also gotten some big advances, but who else?

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    J.K. Rowling has made a billion or so.
    , @haploid
    Jonathan Lethem does alright, justifiably so, and is overlooked amongst this crew, ruthlessly.
    , @D. K.
    Is your use of the term "literary fiction" intended to be in contradistinction from other fictional art forms, such as theater and films, or instead as a reference to fiction that is worthy of being considered "literature" rather than "entertainment" alone? If the former, I am certain that there are a lot of rich novelists living it up in these United States, these days-- probably more than ever!

    Romance novelist Danielle Steel-- who is nothing if not prolific!-- is apparently worth about $375 million. Dan Brown, of "The DaVinci Code" fame, is reportedly worth about $120 million. If he is not a writer of "literary fiction" for his middlebrow adventure novels, I fail to see how billionairess J. K. Rowling would qualify!?! That is not intended as a put-down of what she has accomplished, either as a writer or as an entrepreneur; I just do not see her oeuvre as being "serious fiction" that would have been deemed literary art worthy of scholarly study, back in the day, before the Academy had been marched through and trashed.

    , @Desiderius
    This guy:

    http://www.ericflint.net/

    Says there are about 100 authors making a living in SF/F alone.

    Goofy money takes more imagination.
  21. @OsRazor
    The NY scene does not consider Wolfe high brow or literary. Anything but. There was a big fight after a Man in Full was published. Mailer, Updike and Irving went out of their way to cast Wolfe out as an author worthy of serious study or reading.Wolfe called them the "Three Stooges" and pointed out that his books had sold more than the three of theirs combined in the last couple of decades. They said that more than confirmed their judgments that Wolfe was a mere pulp, genre writer. Really, though, who's made goofy money the last couple of decades in literary fiction? Cormac McCarthy's The Road sold big and both of Franzen's books were huge. Foer has also gotten some big advances, but who else?

    J.K. Rowling has made a billion or so.

    Read More
    • Replies: @haploid
    And Rowling to you exemplifies the mores, strictures, pithways of your JJ Jameson level critique of NYC publishing? When are you going to post YouTube links into the heart of Seinfeld?
    , @Anonymous
    Interestingly, she is a staunch Labour Party supporter.
    Before her big break in authoring, JK Rowling was a struggling single mom trying to exist on the meager 'state benefits' paid by the British state, and which the Tory Party is now doing its damndest to abolish, whilst a the same time the Tory Party has no qualms whatsoever about giving away 8 billion per annum of British taxpayers' money to third world dictators as so-called 'foreign aid'. It is for this reason I strongly hope that the Tories do not win next month's election, and that UKIP will come up and surpass them.
    , @OsRazor
    Rowlings or Dan Brown are most definitely not literary. They fall in the same category as James Patterson (who publishes about half a dozen books a year alone or with others) or Tom Clancy and John Grisham. Poor Stephen King has spent most of his adult life telling people his stuff is literary and few take him seriously. Another "literary" author I forgot to mention who's made a bundle is Ian McEwan.

    My point about Wolfe is that I see him as the closest Dickens-like author the US has produced, but no one else much thinks so.
  22. I should add, the sales job was great because the entire sales and marketing departments were run, amd staffed, buy straight white men.

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  23. The lifeblood of the publishing industry and the NYC creative is rich daddies financing a respectable reason for their intelligent daughters to live in close proximity to the densest concentration of investment bankers eligible corporate lawyers.

    Though publishing is as female dominated and politically progressive as any industry at any time in history, those working in it are more subject to the patriarchy of wealthy fathers and prosperous husbands as any Jane Austen character.

    That irony must be especially poignant to gays of both sexes and especially those ladies not successful in the marriage market.

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  24. @OsRazor
    The NY scene does not consider Wolfe high brow or literary. Anything but. There was a big fight after a Man in Full was published. Mailer, Updike and Irving went out of their way to cast Wolfe out as an author worthy of serious study or reading.Wolfe called them the "Three Stooges" and pointed out that his books had sold more than the three of theirs combined in the last couple of decades. They said that more than confirmed their judgments that Wolfe was a mere pulp, genre writer. Really, though, who's made goofy money the last couple of decades in literary fiction? Cormac McCarthy's The Road sold big and both of Franzen's books were huge. Foer has also gotten some big advances, but who else?

    Jonathan Lethem does alright, justifiably so, and is overlooked amongst this crew, ruthlessly.

    Read More
  25. As Chris above points out, a lot of the behind-the-scenes people in books (in sales, printing, warehousing, etc) are guys. It’s the editorial offices that are heavily female. And as Ezra and a few others say, the editorial end of the business is *highly* dependent on families that supplement their offsprings’ incomes. (Many writers, especially of the literary sort, get family help too.) But that’s always been the case, as far as I know. Book writing and book publishing aren’t really businesses in the usual sense. They’re partly businesses, but they’re also partly hobbies, partly labors of love, partly crafts, partly dream factories … And any and all attempts to rationalize the field have failed miserably. Genre fiction (romance, sci-fi, etc) is probably the closest thing to a business-business that there is in mainstream publishing. (Talking here about books you might buy in a bookstore, and definitely NOT talking about textbooks, law books, etc — which are big businesses, and very competitive.)

    Fun fact: Most books lose money, and many writers lose money on their books. Even big advances don’t often turn out to involve a lot of money when you take a look at how things really shake out. For instance: someone receives a $500,000 advance for a nonfiction book. That sounds like a fortune, but after taxes, after the agent’s fee, and spread over the five years it’ll probably take to research, write and edit the book it isn’t much per year. And at the end of the process nothing’s left over — the writer has to start all over again from zero. Nonfiction writers generally pay for their own research too.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Here's the obituary for New Yorker writer Susan Orlean's dad, which is probably around the median class background for writers: her father was an affluent self-made businessman.

    "Arthur E. Orlean, founder of the real estate development firm Orlean Company, ABC Realty Co., and Delta Mortgage, died Aug. 4. He was 92.

    "Known for his determination and creativity, Mr. Orlean was often immersed in the details of his existing and potential business activities. He was responsible for multinfamily housing complexes throughout Ohio and in other states, and he employed as many as 250 at The Normandy of Rocky River, a nursing home and apartment complex for the elderly.

    "Mr. Orlean enjoyed golf, tennis, and racquetball and spending time with his children and grandchildren. He was considered someone who would listen to and help those who sought his counsel. A former member of B’nai B’rith, he belonged to Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple and the Jewish Community Center (JCC), and served on the boards of the JCC, Montefiore, and Beechmont Country Club.

    "A graduate of John Adams High School, The Ohio State University and its Michael E. Moritz College of Law, Mr. Orlean began his working life as a lawyer in Bluffton, Ohio. After returning from serving as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army during WW II, he left his legal career to join his father’s carpentry business.

    "Mr. Orlean is survived by his wife of 57 years, Edith (née Gross); daughters Debra of Portland, Ore., and Susan of Pine Plains, N.Y.; son David; six grandchildren; and sister Tillie Keller of Coconut Creek, Fla. Contributions are suggested to the Arthur E. Orlean Scholarship Fund at the Mandel Jewish Community Center."

    It seems like a life well led.
    , @unit472
    Guys like Jonas Ward and George MacDonald Fraser with their 'Buchanan' and 'Flashman' novels seemed to have done very well. They might not win many literary awards but a literary franchise that is commercially successful should be what publishers want. The music industry sure doesn't turn its nose up at a man or woman whose 'music' is not up to Aaron Coplands standards if their records go Platinum.
  26. @Steve Sailer
    J.K. Rowling has made a billion or so.

    And Rowling to you exemplifies the mores, strictures, pithways of your JJ Jameson level critique of NYC publishing? When are you going to post YouTube links into the heart of Seinfeld?

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  27. @OsRazor
    The NY scene does not consider Wolfe high brow or literary. Anything but. There was a big fight after a Man in Full was published. Mailer, Updike and Irving went out of their way to cast Wolfe out as an author worthy of serious study or reading.Wolfe called them the "Three Stooges" and pointed out that his books had sold more than the three of theirs combined in the last couple of decades. They said that more than confirmed their judgments that Wolfe was a mere pulp, genre writer. Really, though, who's made goofy money the last couple of decades in literary fiction? Cormac McCarthy's The Road sold big and both of Franzen's books were huge. Foer has also gotten some big advances, but who else?

    Is your use of the term “literary fiction” intended to be in contradistinction from other fictional art forms, such as theater and films, or instead as a reference to fiction that is worthy of being considered “literature” rather than “entertainment” alone? If the former, I am certain that there are a lot of rich novelists living it up in these United States, these days– probably more than ever!

    Romance novelist Danielle Steel– who is nothing if not prolific!– is apparently worth about $375 million. Dan Brown, of “The DaVinci Code” fame, is reportedly worth about $120 million. If he is not a writer of “literary fiction” for his middlebrow adventure novels, I fail to see how billionairess J. K. Rowling would qualify!?! That is not intended as a put-down of what she has accomplished, either as a writer or as an entrepreneur; I just do not see her oeuvre as being “serious fiction” that would have been deemed literary art worthy of scholarly study, back in the day, before the Academy had been marched through and trashed.

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  28. @OsRazor
    The NY scene does not consider Wolfe high brow or literary. Anything but. There was a big fight after a Man in Full was published. Mailer, Updike and Irving went out of their way to cast Wolfe out as an author worthy of serious study or reading.Wolfe called them the "Three Stooges" and pointed out that his books had sold more than the three of theirs combined in the last couple of decades. They said that more than confirmed their judgments that Wolfe was a mere pulp, genre writer. Really, though, who's made goofy money the last couple of decades in literary fiction? Cormac McCarthy's The Road sold big and both of Franzen's books were huge. Foer has also gotten some big advances, but who else?

    This guy:

    http://www.ericflint.net/

    Says there are about 100 authors making a living in SF/F alone.

    Goofy money takes more imagination.

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  29. In my admittedly limited experience, you see more SWM in textbook publishing, which, as has been pointed out, is actually a pretty successful business.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Desiderius
    If by successful, you mean rapacious, sure.

    Those books are studiously short of white males in their pages as well.

    Britney isn't going to make global sales manager for P&G if she's ethnocentric, after all.
  30. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    The talented men who, in another age, would have gone into publishing, are probably now writing blogs such as this one or all types of obsessive/compulsive but very good and very comprehensive blogs on all manner of esoteric subjects ranging from ornithology and palaeontology, for example, to politics and ‘cultural studies’, with no doubt heavy side orders of jokes, funny stories, anecdotes and observations thrown in as added extras. Really, the blogosphere is just the ‘old boys network’ on steroids.

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  31. I was doing some substitute teaching a couple years back and read 30-40 books aloud to mid-western suburban elementary school classrooms. Zero white boys, despite classes being around 90% white. Lots of girls showing up boys, minorities, anthropomorphized animals.

    The irony is I used to volunteer in college (late 80s) in Atlanta helping AA elementary schools replace all their books with white boys in them with more representative subjects.

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  32. @black sea
    In my admittedly limited experience, you see more SWM in textbook publishing, which, as has been pointed out, is actually a pretty successful business.

    If by successful, you mean rapacious, sure.

    Those books are studiously short of white males in their pages as well.

    Britney isn’t going to make global sales manager for P&G if she’s ethnocentric, after all.

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  33. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Steve Sailer
    J.K. Rowling has made a billion or so.

    Interestingly, she is a staunch Labour Party supporter.
    Before her big break in authoring, JK Rowling was a struggling single mom trying to exist on the meager ‘state benefits’ paid by the British state, and which the Tory Party is now doing its damndest to abolish, whilst a the same time the Tory Party has no qualms whatsoever about giving away 8 billion per annum of British taxpayers’ money to third world dictators as so-called ‘foreign aid’. It is for this reason I strongly hope that the Tories do not win next month’s election, and that UKIP will come up and surpass them.

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  34. I wonder what the option of self-publishing has done and will do to the publishing industry?

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  35. Publishing is dying as Amazon takes over. There are still gatekeepers, but different sorts. The future is pulp. Fast, cheap, iterative. People still love Superman, Sherlock Holmes, and Harry Potter. They will pay for them. No one forks over hard earned cash for Maya Angelou.

    Vince Flynn is a good model. Ebook published, his Mitch Expo CIA agent killing Muslims would give the ladies in publishing the vapors. But he made a lot of money. He turned them out fast though.

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  36. Fewer white women and jews would mean more room for people of color. Now, there’s a campaign I can get behind. I wonder if Susan Orlean would get behind me on this.

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  37. o/t – the Eye of Soros and anti-UKIP election posters.

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/immigrant-poster-campaign-launch-wales-9061081

    “Run by Movement Against Xenophobia (MAX), the campaign features 15 different posters, showing migrants with different occupations under the bold heading “I am an Immigrant”.

    The posters can be seen at railway stations across Wales, and aim to depict the contribution of immigrants to the UK, by containing simple captions like “I am a brain surgeon. I have saved 2,000 lives”.

    Nazek Ramadan, executive director of campaign group Migrant Voice, part of MAX, said: “People actually need to know this is what migrants do, and that they do contribute but people don’t hear about it.

    “For example, if you take migrants out of the NHS, it will not survive…”

    Yes, because prior to mass immigration we had no doctors, nurses or hospitals.

    Someone found the Migrant Voice accounts :

    http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Accounts/Ends63/0001142963_AC_20140331_E_C.pdf

    AW60 Charitable Trust
    Awards for All Scotland
    Barrow Cadbury Trust
    City Bridge Trust
    European lntegration Fund i.e. the EU
    Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust – very active in “fighting poverty”, but seem unable to put two and two together. To be fair, “fighting poverty among non-Brits” is probably accurate, I’m sure the Eastern Europeans are better off over here. It’s just Brit citizens of all colours who find their wages static or falling.
    Open Society Foundation – only £20K, but every little helps – and I’ve not dug into the other orgs that make up MAX, or their funders.

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  38. Off topic via Steven Pinker’s twitter feed:

    Shocker of a study: National hiring experiments reveal 2:1 faculty preference for women on STEM tenure track.

    P.S. I doubt Pinker was truly shocked. LOL.

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  39. OT: 2 min vid: 8th grade girl and her little brother get beaten for being the wrong race. (article)

    When criminals are victimized there’s a national spotlight, but we don’t extend the same privileges to the innocent.

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  40. Steve, it’s currently 03.09 in California, if my googling is accurate, and my last comment was approved in the last 45 minutes. You need some sleep to keep that wide-ranging brain functional.

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  41. @Paleo Retiree
    As Chris above points out, a lot of the behind-the-scenes people in books (in sales, printing, warehousing, etc) are guys. It's the editorial offices that are heavily female. And as Ezra and a few others say, the editorial end of the business is *highly* dependent on families that supplement their offsprings' incomes. (Many writers, especially of the literary sort, get family help too.) But that's always been the case, as far as I know. Book writing and book publishing aren't really businesses in the usual sense. They're partly businesses, but they're also partly hobbies, partly labors of love, partly crafts, partly dream factories ... And any and all attempts to rationalize the field have failed miserably. Genre fiction (romance, sci-fi, etc) is probably the closest thing to a business-business that there is in mainstream publishing. (Talking here about books you might buy in a bookstore, and definitely NOT talking about textbooks, law books, etc -- which are big businesses, and very competitive.)

    Fun fact: Most books lose money, and many writers lose money on their books. Even big advances don't often turn out to involve a lot of money when you take a look at how things really shake out. For instance: someone receives a $500,000 advance for a nonfiction book. That sounds like a fortune, but after taxes, after the agent's fee, and spread over the five years it'll probably take to research, write and edit the book it isn't much per year. And at the end of the process nothing's left over -- the writer has to start all over again from zero. Nonfiction writers generally pay for their own research too.

    Here’s the obituary for New Yorker writer Susan Orlean’s dad, which is probably around the median class background for writers: her father was an affluent self-made businessman.

    “Arthur E. Orlean, founder of the real estate development firm Orlean Company, ABC Realty Co., and Delta Mortgage, died Aug. 4. He was 92.

    “Known for his determination and creativity, Mr. Orlean was often immersed in the details of his existing and potential business activities. He was responsible for multinfamily housing complexes throughout Ohio and in other states, and he employed as many as 250 at The Normandy of Rocky River, a nursing home and apartment complex for the elderly.

    “Mr. Orlean enjoyed golf, tennis, and racquetball and spending time with his children and grandchildren. He was considered someone who would listen to and help those who sought his counsel. A former member of B’nai B’rith, he belonged to Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple and the Jewish Community Center (JCC), and served on the boards of the JCC, Montefiore, and Beechmont Country Club.

    “A graduate of John Adams High School, The Ohio State University and its Michael E. Moritz College of Law, Mr. Orlean began his working life as a lawyer in Bluffton, Ohio. After returning from serving as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army during WW II, he left his legal career to join his father’s carpentry business.

    “Mr. Orlean is survived by his wife of 57 years, Edith (née Gross); daughters Debra of Portland, Ore., and Susan of Pine Plains, N.Y.; son David; six grandchildren; and sister Tillie Keller of Coconut Creek, Fla. Contributions are suggested to the Arthur E. Orlean Scholarship Fund at the Mandel Jewish Community Center.”

    It seems like a life well led.

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    • Replies: @Desiderius

    It seems like a life well led.
     
    One wonders whether he "got over it" to the satisfaction of his daughter.
  42. “In the early years of their friendship, Pound told Kenner that he had “an obligation to visit the great men of our time”, and handed him a list of names and addresses. Kenner duly travelled round the world and became friends with a literary circle that included T S Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, Samuel Beckett, William Carlos Williams and William F Buckley Jr – who acted as best man at Kenner’s second wedding.”

    Joe loved to quote Kenner’s line the most: “we are always blind to the styles of our time.”

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  43. @Paleo Retiree
    As Chris above points out, a lot of the behind-the-scenes people in books (in sales, printing, warehousing, etc) are guys. It's the editorial offices that are heavily female. And as Ezra and a few others say, the editorial end of the business is *highly* dependent on families that supplement their offsprings' incomes. (Many writers, especially of the literary sort, get family help too.) But that's always been the case, as far as I know. Book writing and book publishing aren't really businesses in the usual sense. They're partly businesses, but they're also partly hobbies, partly labors of love, partly crafts, partly dream factories ... And any and all attempts to rationalize the field have failed miserably. Genre fiction (romance, sci-fi, etc) is probably the closest thing to a business-business that there is in mainstream publishing. (Talking here about books you might buy in a bookstore, and definitely NOT talking about textbooks, law books, etc -- which are big businesses, and very competitive.)

    Fun fact: Most books lose money, and many writers lose money on their books. Even big advances don't often turn out to involve a lot of money when you take a look at how things really shake out. For instance: someone receives a $500,000 advance for a nonfiction book. That sounds like a fortune, but after taxes, after the agent's fee, and spread over the five years it'll probably take to research, write and edit the book it isn't much per year. And at the end of the process nothing's left over -- the writer has to start all over again from zero. Nonfiction writers generally pay for their own research too.

    Guys like Jonas Ward and George MacDonald Fraser with their ‘Buchanan’ and ‘Flashman’ novels seemed to have done very well. They might not win many literary awards but a literary franchise that is commercially successful should be what publishers want. The music industry sure doesn’t turn its nose up at a man or woman whose ‘music’ is not up to Aaron Coplands standards if their records go Platinum.

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    • Replies: @Miss Laura
    A lovely writer, George MacDonald Fraser. Read his WWII memoir Quartered Safe Out Here.
  44. @SFG
    I'm more optimistic than most of the people here, actually; it's easier to get to an audience without going through a NYT publishing house. Look at 50 Shades of Grey, which despite execrable writing (everyone admits this) showed America that ladies still like dominant, successful men. Look at the Sad Puppies campaign, which bypassed the clique running the Hugos.

    The tide is turning. Our hand is at their throats, yet they spy us only dimly... ;)

    “The Martian” was self-published but then Andy Reid switched to a New York publisher.

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    • Replies: @NOTA
    Yeah, in a better world, instead of arguing over the SPs' slate (spoiler alert: political parties do better in elections than individual voters), the SF world would be figuring out how to make sure the next time something like The Martian comes along, it's not ineligible for the Hugo by the time anyone has heard of it. (It was self published on the author's website before it was published as a standard book, so if it was going to win the Hugo for best novel, it would have had to do it last year.)
  45. Thinking about who/whom makes me think that maybe this denunciation of another industry staffed by Nice White Ladies has been done at the bequest of Amazon, that has a bitter rivalry with the publishing oligopoly.

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  46. @Steve Sailer
    Here's the obituary for New Yorker writer Susan Orlean's dad, which is probably around the median class background for writers: her father was an affluent self-made businessman.

    "Arthur E. Orlean, founder of the real estate development firm Orlean Company, ABC Realty Co., and Delta Mortgage, died Aug. 4. He was 92.

    "Known for his determination and creativity, Mr. Orlean was often immersed in the details of his existing and potential business activities. He was responsible for multinfamily housing complexes throughout Ohio and in other states, and he employed as many as 250 at The Normandy of Rocky River, a nursing home and apartment complex for the elderly.

    "Mr. Orlean enjoyed golf, tennis, and racquetball and spending time with his children and grandchildren. He was considered someone who would listen to and help those who sought his counsel. A former member of B’nai B’rith, he belonged to Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple and the Jewish Community Center (JCC), and served on the boards of the JCC, Montefiore, and Beechmont Country Club.

    "A graduate of John Adams High School, The Ohio State University and its Michael E. Moritz College of Law, Mr. Orlean began his working life as a lawyer in Bluffton, Ohio. After returning from serving as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army during WW II, he left his legal career to join his father’s carpentry business.

    "Mr. Orlean is survived by his wife of 57 years, Edith (née Gross); daughters Debra of Portland, Ore., and Susan of Pine Plains, N.Y.; son David; six grandchildren; and sister Tillie Keller of Coconut Creek, Fla. Contributions are suggested to the Arthur E. Orlean Scholarship Fund at the Mandel Jewish Community Center."

    It seems like a life well led.

    It seems like a life well led.

    One wonders whether he “got over it” to the satisfaction of his daughter.

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  47. @Steve Sailer
    J.K. Rowling has made a billion or so.

    Rowlings or Dan Brown are most definitely not literary. They fall in the same category as James Patterson (who publishes about half a dozen books a year alone or with others) or Tom Clancy and John Grisham. Poor Stephen King has spent most of his adult life telling people his stuff is literary and few take him seriously. Another “literary” author I forgot to mention who’s made a bundle is Ian McEwan.

    My point about Wolfe is that I see him as the closest Dickens-like author the US has produced, but no one else much thinks so.

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    • Replies: @David
    I think the Harry Potter books are excellent children's literature. The first three are much better than the last four and there's a reason. I believe the last chapter of the third book is called "Parting of the ways," and was a set up for a grand battle between good and evil. But then September 11th, 2001 and the War on Terror. Rowling didn't want to write an extended analogy to America's war on the Axis of Evil. There ensued the longest inter-book pause as she struggled to redirect the plot. And she produced a second rate book about puberty. But it wasn't really her fault. Her plot was marred by events and she couldn't fully regain her footing.

    The fabric and atmosphere of the books are good. The language is good. There are many references to classical literature and Latin, and also to all sorts of British dialects and Northern European myths. These become hooks for more serious learning. The morality of the books is sound. No sex, no oaths. Prigs and villains are made to look bad. Honest, nice people are made to look good. Kids enjoy the books and I can't think of a single harm they inflict.

  48. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Anonymous
    Hey Paleo Retiree: can I ask some advice of someone who's been around a lot longer than me?

    I'm pretty much one of those dorky science types you said were revolutionizing commenting about arts, etc., and I'm wondering: I'd figure the ideal mate would be my opposite number, the librarian/English major types. However, they are pretty well corroded by feminism. What do you think the proper type of girl to go after would be? I know a lot of people here go for Game and weightlifting, and I'm sure those are really useful for the average guy, but I think I'm too far in the opposite direction to succeed by channeling that archetype, if you get my drift.

    Find a young Chinese, Korean, or Vietnamese woman who is active in her church.

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  49. @anony-mouse
    1/ Fewer guys are going into a low renumerative, slowly disappearing field? feature not bug.

    2/ By my recollection a lot of great male writers of the past were heavily into the sauce. As that has become less acceptable you'd expect to have fewer great male writers. Sorry you have to live longer than Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Thomas, Chandler, Kerouac, Poe, Faulkner, Capote, and Thompson.

    3/ I suspect males with writing talent are finding other outlets for their talents like writing video games (yes they get written) , sniper screenplays, blogs (look at the long list at the right of the screen you're reading right now dammit).

    4/ Let's say that there are a lot of straight white males who would make great publishers, but aren't being given the chance. It's probably easier than ever to become your own Henry Regnery.

    Of course you would have to get off your behind to do that.

    2/ By my recollection a lot of great male writers of the past were heavily into the sauce. As that has become less acceptable you’d expect to have fewer great male writers. Sorry you have to live longer than Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Thomas, Chandler, Kerouac, Poe, Faulkner, Capote, and Thompson.

    And lots of great male writers did not have problems with alcohol: Hawthorne, Dickens, Thackeray, Mark Twain, Sir Walter Scott, William Dean Howells, Henry James, etc

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    • Replies: @Desiderius
    Churchill being a great writer (among other things) who fit into both categories.
  50. RE: Women in Publishing,

    If memory serves, Paul Johnson wrote (in his very entertaining Intellectuals) about how Victor Gollancz hired lots of women for his firm* back in the ’30s-’40s. Johnson noted that there was something of an economic motive to it, as women could be paid more cheaply than men.But there was also a psychological aspect.Victor Gollancz felt quite comfortable around women.Or, to put it another way, he found them easier to manage than men.Johnson also observed that the feminized atmosphere of the firm meant that it was a very emotional place, with lots of hugging and tears…..

    *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Gollancz_Ltd

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    • Replies: @elmer
    Back in the 1960s NASA men didn't hug each other awkwardly after successful mission accomplishment.
  51. @Anonymous
    Hey Paleo Retiree: can I ask some advice of someone who's been around a lot longer than me?

    I'm pretty much one of those dorky science types you said were revolutionizing commenting about arts, etc., and I'm wondering: I'd figure the ideal mate would be my opposite number, the librarian/English major types. However, they are pretty well corroded by feminism. What do you think the proper type of girl to go after would be? I know a lot of people here go for Game and weightlifting, and I'm sure those are really useful for the average guy, but I think I'm too far in the opposite direction to succeed by channeling that archetype, if you get my drift.

    Every small town has at least one cooking class. Larger places will have several classes in cooking. Take one, learn a bit of culinary skill, meet the hetero-normative slim ladies in the class who enjoy cooking.
    If you are lucky you will find one about half our age + 7.
    Ask her out for a drink or dinner and a drink or a literary lecture or a walk through whatever you find interesting in one of your local museums or Institutes or Galleries. Listen to her critically.
    Make decision.
    Now about that weightlifting thing. I am 68 diabetic and hefty. I hired a trainer and am lifting and machine training twice a week for an hour each. The belt has had to have one new hole punched in it already. I may never have a 7 pack nor lose all the heft but it is helping me.
    Finally remember that owning versus renting calculations apply to more than just real estate and cars.

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  52. @syonredux
    RE: Women in Publishing,

    If memory serves, Paul Johnson wrote (in his very entertaining Intellectuals) about how Victor Gollancz hired lots of women for his firm* back in the '30s-'40s. Johnson noted that there was something of an economic motive to it, as women could be paid more cheaply than men.But there was also a psychological aspect.Victor Gollancz felt quite comfortable around women.Or, to put it another way, he found them easier to manage than men.Johnson also observed that the feminized atmosphere of the firm meant that it was a very emotional place, with lots of hugging and tears.....




    *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Gollancz_Ltd

    Back in the 1960s NASA men didn’t hug each other awkwardly after successful mission accomplishment.

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  53. Steve said,

    It’s almost as if laying off family men and hiring young women whose daddies pay their credit card bills is a good financial strategy for billionaires.

    I have a theory I would love to see rubbished, but it comes from a life long wasted in bureaucracy, academia, babysitting, and the communications sections of our military; in other words, in constant contact with the universal enemy. Women are attractive to bosses but irresistable to bad bosses, that plague of inferior-superiors who currently guarantee so much of the national prosperity and happiness. The media will tell you that this is because of categoric and universal superiority which can be defeated only by conspiracies of bigoted hiring. The truth is that the attraction for bosses good and bad is submission. Women do not question Daddy.
    If you had a relatively simple task and were to manage any number of working class men in performing this task, you have a discussion on your hands. If the technique or materials involved are new or unfamiliar, or if one of the guys isn’t confident that this is the way to go, that discussion will increase in time and emotional investment. If those working class guys are homogenized and cowed by any amount of college, the discussion encumbrance might be totally unaffected. This isn’t touching any innovating bastards who have a better method that you haven’t thought of, who threaten both the project and your job.
    If you go to female subordinates with the same situation, they will either access existing instructions or receive new ones, and then perform the task, restricting any disputes to completely pointless and incomprehensible political Kabuki from which you can recuse yourself. Women generally elect a daddy-figure and obey him to the point of self-detriment. It seems that this would relate to the salary negotiation issue: they’re bad at fighting because they are inexperienced.
    Sexual rejection, which is very vigorously celebrated in pop culture, is never about becoming truly autonomous or literally equal or artistically radical. The pop sex-rejection is about rejecting a deficient candidate in favor of a better choice: in other words the fundamental grounding of nominal sexual politics (or “patriarchy”) goes totally unchallenged, and is even strengthened, by “independent woman” pop-feminism. You are strong to have chosen a guy who can pay more, and being your own woman folds as an option into this and is therefore extinguished.
    Women, like children, don’t seem to understand conflict except in terms of simple domination (which isn’t really conflict at all). Boys learn to be men by meeting other boys they cannot dominate, by playing sports, by reading about history, in other words, through conflict experiences. There’s actually an illustration of this in the last iSteve post on this story. One of the placards commands,

    “SIT DOWN & LET US ABOLISH YOU”

    which is a little like “hold still so I can clobber you,” yet it manages to be even more paradoxically submissive by asking that the target both sit down and grant his approval for the abolition.
    By the way the best champion of the publishing of genuine literature (as opposed to Manhattan churning out waste products by the truckload) is TakiMag columnist and woman Ann Sterzinger. You do find wonderful exceptions, but, and I think this confirms things, you find exceptional and “truly intelligent” (as opposed to “school-validated”) women exactly where you find comparable men: at the bottoms of organizations, doing all the work and receiving none of the attention. For both genders, being physically near a billionaire probably predicts for lack of creativity and willingness to stick out one’s neck.

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  54. @Steve Sailer
    "The Martian" was self-published but then Andy Reid switched to a New York publisher.

    Yeah, in a better world, instead of arguing over the SPs’ slate (spoiler alert: political parties do better in elections than individual voters), the SF world would be figuring out how to make sure the next time something like The Martian comes along, it’s not ineligible for the Hugo by the time anyone has heard of it. (It was self published on the author’s website before it was published as a standard book, so if it was going to win the Hugo for best novel, it would have had to do it last year.)

    Read More
  55. Anyone with a strong background in language and logic who is in their late 20s could create a successful career as an independent book editor.
    Over 75% of the independent/self published stuff could be improved by editing and proof reading.

    Read More
  56. @unit472
    Guys like Jonas Ward and George MacDonald Fraser with their 'Buchanan' and 'Flashman' novels seemed to have done very well. They might not win many literary awards but a literary franchise that is commercially successful should be what publishers want. The music industry sure doesn't turn its nose up at a man or woman whose 'music' is not up to Aaron Coplands standards if their records go Platinum.

    A lovely writer, George MacDonald Fraser. Read his WWII memoir Quartered Safe Out Here.

    Read More
    • Replies: @vinteuil
    Fraser was, indeed a lovely writer. If there's any justice, his Flashman books will still be read, with pleasure, a hundred years from now.
  57. The epitome of bad-ass Southern writers circa 1960s is Charles Portis. Went from being a Marine in Korea to NYC journalism, then London journalism, then fiction.

    His books, in addition to being hilarious, sport a handful of subtle and not-so-subtle scenes that iSteve readers especially would find enjoyable.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Brutusale
    Portis, like Dan Jenkins, began his writing career at a daily newspaper in the South before being hired in New York.
  58. @Lot
    Is there a need for new fiction for boys? The stuff I read was all punished 30+ years before I was born and was sufficient to keep by entertained. My favorites were Tow Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

    These days there isn't even a need to periodically reprint the classics, they are all free online and even most poor people have tablets, which broke below $50 a few years ago.

    The stuff I read was all punished 30+ years before I was born and was sufficient to keep by entertained.

    Awesome auto-correct bro!

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  59. @Lagertha
    I just drove a ridiculous amount of hours " travel sports" for my youngest son...and, I just laughed my body senseless watching 'Archer' when I got home - recommend.

    I just drove a ridiculous amount of hours ” travel sports” for my youngest son…and, I just laughed my body senseless watching ‘Archer’ when I got home – recommend.

    Sometimes I’ll do that at work after a particularly heavy meeting schedule.

    YouTube/Archer clips restoreth my soul!

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  60. Totally OT, but.
    I was at a charity opera last night and noticed the president was a black woman – the charity is 99.9% white – they go out of their way to give roles to second rate black singers as well..

    In light of that and the recent star wars trailer – race mixing and grrl power,
    and the loud protestations from the lefites and SJWs about

    “THE NEXT BOND SHOULD BE BLACK, but RACE DOESN’T”T MATTER” because it’s a fictional character….

    well, how soon until gender doesn’t matter, and LGBT types start pushing for a man to play juliette, etc. ?, and roles and stories ‘updated’ to have x% of gay couples?

    Prediction – that’s just around the corner.

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  61. “Black tradition of not writing and publishing also extends to their tradition of not liking to read books.”

    Wow, just wow.

    “Back when Oakland used to have a Barnes & Noble, I saw very few Negroes inside the couple of times I went there.”

    Funny, how in Chicago, the Barnes & Noble is just packed with the darkies buying and reading books.

    “However, they are pretty well corroded by feminism. What do you think the proper type of girl to go after would be?”

    Go to a church. Find a nice Christian girl. Of course, she must be attractive, slender, and cater to your every whim. Best wishes.

    “I’m too far in the opposite direction to succeed by channeling that archetype…”

    The boyzzz at Return Of Kings would say grow a pair.

    “As the country fills up with vibrant people from Latin America, Africa, and the Mid-East, perhaps the publishing business will become as vibrant and healthy as it is in Latin America, Africa, and the Mid-East.”

    I don’t know, ask Native Americans how they felt when their own culture as overrun by “foreigners”.

    “Is that what the captains of the publishing industry want? Good luck with that.”

    Indeed, good luck with that. They will lining their pockets with greenbacks.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
    "Corvinus says:

    "“Black tradition of not writing and publishing also extends to their tradition of not liking to read books.”"

    Wow, just wow."

    I guess the truth is shocking to those who are unaccustomed to it. Ask Chris Rock about the reading habits of black people.

    "“As the country fills up with vibrant people from Latin America, Africa, and the Mid-East, perhaps the publishing business will become as vibrant and healthy as it is in Latin America, Africa, and the Mid-East.”"

    I don’t know, ask Native Americans how they felt when their own culture as overrun by “foreigners”.

    Original. Invoke those poor, poor Indians (whom you don't give a damn about). Clearly, Latin Americans, Africans, and Middle-Easterners ARE foreigners to these shores. But thanks for your juvenile snark - it alerts me to the fact that anything you post can be safely ignored in future.

    "“Is that what the captains of the publishing industry want? Good luck with that.”"

    "Indeed, good luck with that. They will lining their pockets with greenbacks."

    Right........because once those people come hear they will all become bookworms, despite not having much interest in books in their own lands.

    Poor you. Now that John Stewart has left the airwaves, how will you even know what to think anymore.

  62. @syonredux

    2/ By my recollection a lot of great male writers of the past were heavily into the sauce. As that has become less acceptable you’d expect to have fewer great male writers. Sorry you have to live longer than Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Thomas, Chandler, Kerouac, Poe, Faulkner, Capote, and Thompson.
     
    And lots of great male writers did not have problems with alcohol: Hawthorne, Dickens, Thackeray, Mark Twain, Sir Walter Scott, William Dean Howells, Henry James, etc

    Churchill being a great writer (among other things) who fit into both categories.

    Read More
  63. @Jefferson
    "But blacks, although they have their own big verbal traditions, don’t have a big tradition of writing and publishing. (Don’t shoot me for saying that."

    Black tradition of not writing and publishing also extends to their tradition of not liking to read books. Back when Oakland used to have a Barnes & Noble, I saw very few Negroes inside the couple of times I went there. If you want to be surrounded by a lot of Blacks in Oakland, avoid the bookstores and go to a Golden State Warriors game or a Walmart.

    Back in the 90′s, some national organization of bookstores estimated that blacks, who were thirteen percent of the population, were buying one percent of the books sold in the country. Of course, they were lamenting that fact, and blaming whitey for it. But I doubt if that percentage has changed much at all, because the simple fact is that the vast majority of blacks have zero interest in reading. And the books they do buy tend to be trash, and I’m not talking about Toni Morrison or Maya Angelou level hogwash. I’m talking about stuff like Baby Momma Drama and Confessions of a Side Bitch.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Malcolm X-Lax
    What black women are really waiting for is a leather-bound collected works of Sista Souljah.

    http://www.amazon.com/Sister-Souljah/e/B000APV5KO
  64. Sort of to Lot’s point, I buy 95% of my books very cheaply used. The first thing an old Harvard professor’s kids do when he dies is dump his books at our town library sale room. When I want a specific book, any published after 1870 that isn’t a collectors item can be bought off abebooks.com or a similar site for just a couple of bucks over shipping. Why would I buy Grant’s memoir in a fancy india paper American Library edition when I can buy a 10th printing for $5? Seems most serious readers today would have next to no impact on the publishing industry. This wasn’t the case in my grandfather’s day.

    Read More
  65. Anon says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Paleo Retiree
    Many thanks for highlighting my comment, Steve. If anyone is curious about NYC book publishing from 1985-2001 or so, ask away. I'll do my best to share what I know about it. It is, or at least was, an interesting field.

    Do you know an agent from that time who is still working and is friendly to males, white or non-white? It seems ridiculous that we don’t have any new male writer of actual merit coming through the ranks. Was all of this female dominance in motion while you were in publishing in the 80s?

    Read More
  66. Publishing is a mess. The people in control (women) are constantly looking for someone to blame for the tailspin the industry is in. Editors, agents, whoever – its all women looking for the next Tough Girl chooses between Bad Boy or Nice Boy, and they’re backed up by hordes of sycophants looking to get published.

    SFF and YA is mainly that sort of wasteland now. Heinlein couldnt get published, nor could Asimov or Bradbury. The authors that have gotten the big pushes (and the monster advances and movie deals) usually met their editors on sites like the Buffyverse Fanfiction Forum (not even kidding). A woman got a six figure advance for (no shit) writing what amounts to One Direction (the boy band!) fuck fiction with a 50 Shades of Grey theme. Hell, 50 Shades was Twilight fanfiction.

    As someone who went the self pub route and then got picked up by a small press, the biggest pain in the ass revolves around trying to get yourself out there and known. Social media is beating a dead horse unless one of the big timers happens to read your book.

    Imagine the future as a Twilight slash fic, smacking you in the face forever.

    Read More
  67. “OsRazor says:

    Rowlings or Dan Brown are most definitely not literary. They fall in the same category as James Patterson (who publishes about half a dozen books a year alone or with others) or Tom Clancy and John Grisham. Poor Stephen King has spent most of his adult life telling people his stuff is literary and few take him seriously. Another “literary” author I forgot to mention who’s made a bundle is Ian McEwan.

    My point about Wolfe is that I see him as the closest Dickens-like author the US has produced, but no one else much thinks so.”

    The demarcation between literary fiction (i.e. “serious” literature) and “entertainments” is perhaps weaker than it use to be, because most “serious” literature now is crap. A good rule of thumb seems to be this: if it is prominently displayed in an airport bookstore, then it is not literary fiction. As you said, Brown is definitely not literary. However, I do consider Wolfe to be literary fiction (even though he might be sold in airports), in fact his work is just about the only literary fiction that’s any good anymore.

    Some stuff that would be considered genre fiction is everybit as good as the best serious literature. George MacDonald Frasier’s Flashman novels, for example – I would place them on a par with Robert Graves historical novels.

    Read More
    • Replies: @vinteuil
    Hmmm...the Flashman novels vs. I Claudius, Claudius the God & Count Belisarius...

    I, too would place them on a par.
  68. @Corvinus
    “Black tradition of not writing and publishing also extends to their tradition of not liking to read books.”

    Wow, just wow.


    “Back when Oakland used to have a Barnes & Noble, I saw very few Negroes inside the couple of times I went there.”

    Funny, how in Chicago, the Barnes & Noble is just packed with the darkies buying and reading books.


    “However, they are pretty well corroded by feminism. What do you think the proper type of girl to go after would be?”

    Go to a church. Find a nice Christian girl. Of course, she must be attractive, slender, and cater to your every whim. Best wishes.


    “I’m too far in the opposite direction to succeed by channeling that archetype…”

    The boyzzz at Return Of Kings would say grow a pair.


    "As the country fills up with vibrant people from Latin America, Africa, and the Mid-East, perhaps the publishing business will become as vibrant and healthy as it is in Latin America, Africa, and the Mid-East."

    I don’t know, ask Native Americans how they felt when their own culture as overrun by “foreigners”.


    “Is that what the captains of the publishing industry want? Good luck with that.”

    Indeed, good luck with that. They will lining their pockets with greenbacks.

    “Corvinus says:

    ““Black tradition of not writing and publishing also extends to their tradition of not liking to read books.””

    Wow, just wow.”

    I guess the truth is shocking to those who are unaccustomed to it. Ask Chris Rock about the reading habits of black people.

    ““As the country fills up with vibrant people from Latin America, Africa, and the Mid-East, perhaps the publishing business will become as vibrant and healthy as it is in Latin America, Africa, and the Mid-East.””

    I don’t know, ask Native Americans how they felt when their own culture as overrun by “foreigners”.

    Original. Invoke those poor, poor Indians (whom you don’t give a damn about). Clearly, Latin Americans, Africans, and Middle-Easterners ARE foreigners to these shores. But thanks for your juvenile snark – it alerts me to the fact that anything you post can be safely ignored in future.

    ““Is that what the captains of the publishing industry want? Good luck with that.””

    “Indeed, good luck with that. They will lining their pockets with greenbacks.”

    Right……..because once those people come hear they will all become bookworms, despite not having much interest in books in their own lands.

    Poor you. Now that John Stewart has left the airwaves, how will you even know what to think anymore.

    Read More
  69. There are very few black people in the business….blacks, although they have their own big verbal traditions, don’t have a big tradition of writing and publishing. (Don’t shoot me for saying that. Albert Murray and Ralph Ellison, great black intellectuals, both made the point.)

    This seems way off to me. Pop publishing for black audiences is a major niche market — go to any Barnes and Nobles in the Northeast or an area with a significant black population and you will see lots and lots of books on the shelves by black authors for black audiences. Black romance (some of which is effectively soft core porn) is a huge genre, so is self-help and religious/christian. Black editors must play a major role in this business.

    At the fancier/more literary level, blacks have done pretty well in the major literary award/prestige sweepstakes — James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison back in the day, Toni Morrison today (whatever you think of her she has been very successful in those circles), lots of respected mid-range authors like James Ellroy (genre), Colson Whitehead (literary) etc. When you consider that blacks are just 12% of the population they seem if anything overrepresented in literature at lots of different levels. As they are in many of the creative/performance fields.

    Read More
  70. A short note about the term “literary fiction” … “Literary fiction” as people in the publishing biz (and academia) use the term has zero to do with literary merit. Instead, it’s a genre: usually middle-to-highbrow, short on narrative and juicy characters, and big on tone-poem-type writing, up-to-date themes and literary strategies … Historically, contempo lit fict has its roots not in Shakespeare and Dickens but in the post-WWII boom in Creative Writing departments at colleges and universities. It’s writing-workshop fiction, essentially.

    So in publishing there’s crime fiction, there’s romance and erotica, there’s sci-fi, there’s a few others, and then there’s also literary fiction. The notion that a work of contempo literary fiction is automatically better (let alone automatically more likely to wind up in some future canon) than a work from one of the other contempo genres is one of the better jokes the publishing industry (and academia) have put over on many of the rest of us.

    If you want the long-winded version of the above paragraph (as well as links to some more rants I wrote about book publishing), click here.

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux

    Historically, contempo lit fict has its roots not in Shakespeare and Dickens but in the post-WWII boom in Creative Writing departments at colleges and universities. It’s writing-workshop fiction, essentially.
     
    I once had a conversation with a guy who taught a Creative Writing class.I told him that the idea of teaching creative writing didn't make much sense to me.Hemingway and Fitzgerald, after all, turned out OK without taking creative writing courses....
  71. If y’all can bear one of my most cherished Really Deep Thoughts …

    There’s nothing special about books. Many people are prone to get sentimental and/or pompous about “the book,” but in reality “the book” is just a container for content of one sort or another. Books don’t automatically mean wisdom, seriousness, significance or permanence, let alone immortality — most books that are made wind up getting pulped (as in not-sold, and then chewed up by giant machines). Many are dopily commercial, many are padded-out magazine articles or short stories, the fact-checking in many nonfiction books is worse than the fact-checking is (or at least was) at magazines … The idea that the book industry of the past did a lot of responsible caretaking of the culture is a myth. Some publishers and editors did, but a lot of them were pirates, opportunists and bandits.

    And now that we have digital electronics, publishing material in book form often doesn’t make a lot of sense. There are often more appealing options. Reference works benefit from constant updating, multimedia and hyperlinks; there are many statements that are better made at shorter rather than longer length; fiction is easier and often more appealing to digest when it’s acted-out and made visual; blogging and social-networking technologies make getting ideas, jokes and observations out in public a lot faster and easier than ever before. Think about the quality, the brains, the quickness and the humor that we Steve fans get from Steve on a near-daily basis, for instance. Those are huge virtues that no book or book-publisher can match. And electronics have enabled lots of people who couldn’t get published before to join in the general cultural conversation. That’s made the conversation a lot richer than it used to be.

    What mainly strikes me these days when I prowl a bookstore handling new books is the question, “Did this really need to be a book?” And I’m often struck by the impression that the editors, agents and authors wrestled with that question too. (If you’ve been in and around book publishing, you experience bookstores very differently than civilians do — you see the books, and understand the books, as so many publishing decisions.) Often the answer seems to me to be “No.” A substantial book might take me ten or fifteen hours to read. How many subjects do I really have that much interest in? Very few. Meanwhile, the number of subjects I’ve got a couple of minutes’ or a couple of hours’ worth of interest in is gigantic.

    Focusing on “the book” per se often seems to me to be as misguided as focusing on the ad campaign instead of the movie, or focusing on the can instead of the food inside. The important thing is the material, not the packaging.

    I say all this as someone who was a bookish kid and who still enjoys book-reading a lot, by the way. 15 years in and around the book biz will burn a lot of illusions off a person, though.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Agreed and don't ignore the elephant in the room. Amazon. Disintermediation, the idea that Moore's Law allows ever greater and more powerful computing power at a lower cost, provides all sorts of removals of middlemen like Publishers in favor of Amazon or Apple, or Netflix, to dominate production and distribution.

    The Music industry has seen its revenues halved from the peak of 1999. Streaming produces too few revenues and most bands outside the big superstars like Madonna (specifically Mumford and Sons) have savaged Tidal, Jay-Z's new streaming service, as overpriced and encouraging pirating. Even U2 seems to believe that the best way to make money is to perform and sell merchandise and give the recorded music away for free (Songs of Innocence was free on Itunes for a month last year).

    Kindles sell periodically for as little as $49. I have one at that price. Now I can download all sorts of military histories, science fiction (hard/military), mysteries, thrillers etc. I want. For cheaper. Direct from Amazon. Sure Dan Brown and J K Rowling make boatloads of money, but there are writers using Amazon, and not all of them romance bodice rippers either, making middle class livings. Outside the publishing world. The way many bands now don't have record labels, sell their music as loss leaders to promote touring revenues.

    Its not exact -- most authors are not going on speaking tours for the real money. But just as a zillion boards and forums for almost everything have eaten up magazines devoted to special interests, so too are Amazon and maybe Apple dominating publishing. That's why Hachette had the pricing dispute with Amazon (Amazon demanding lower prices). So Amazon can build market share. Meanwhile Hachette, and the other publishers rely on huge markups and a few popular titles like stuff from Rowling and Dan Brown to subsidize writers who lose money but create "social prestige" in the NYC hothouse environment of Upper Middle Class women seeking boyfriends/husbands from the movers and shakers.

    TL;DR version: Moore's Law means a computer can take over the middleman in nearly every industry particularly publishing and serve the consumer DIRECT with far fewer costs and greater convenience. Want a book RIGHT NOW? Amazon is just a click away, with specialized recommendations just for you.
    , @Father O'Hara
    So much product is this awful women's junk...
    , @The Last Real Calvinist
    Thanks for the excellent comments on book publishing, PR.

    I'm also fascinated by people who are bibliophiles in the strict sense of being more interested in the physical forms books take than the content they contain. I've always been a huge reader, but could never have cared much less about the forms my books have taken. Sure, an elegant book is a pleasure, but I've always seen it as a minor one in comparison to what a book actually says. Obviously, though, many people love both books' form and content, and some really only seem to care about the former . . . .

    I've often noted similarities in this book form/content continuum and the way people see churches. This is no accident, clearly, as Christianity is a religion of the book, so the two are inescapably intertwined.

    Churches also have a range of members who vary in terms of how much form and content mean to them. On one hand, you've got devout members who'd be happy to worship in a parking garage, so long as they felt they were worshiping in Spirit and in truth. On the other end you've got the people who are drawn to beautiful buildings (and -- perhaps my own weakness -- to elegant and euphonious liturgies), and who can tolerate any amount of variability in preaching and core beliefs, right up to and including outright heresy.

    There is a great deal of danger in caring too much about earthly forms . . . .
  72. Anon — I’ve been away from book publishing for more than 10 years now, so my knowledge is out of date. And many of the people I was friendly with back in the day have retired or left the business, which is widely felt to be crumbling. A lot of the rest have left the corporations and set up shop as independent ghostwriters or editors, and are feeling relieved to be well out of the NYC scene.

    I don’t think it’s quite fair to say that the business is antagonistic to straight guys, though. An ambitious, dynamic, talented male youngster could make a big impact. That said, if that youngster were in many visible ways un (or anti)-PC I think he’d have a very hard time. (There always seem to be some slots for contrarians, though.) What’s happened is a more general, self-reinforcing thing: as the business of book publishing has become more corporate and more female, it’s become more bland and more worthy. And as that has happened (and as other technologies and media have proliferated), boys have lost interest in books and turned their energies and enthusiasms to other fields. I mean: Is the elementary-school world anti-male? I imagine a straight guy could land a job as an elementary school teacher if he really wanted to. But in practical fact there aren’t many straight guys who want to, because, hey, what’s really in it for them?

    Read More
    • Replies: @J.Ross
    Regular accusations of child abuse, nut job parents, and all your superiors are angry women who are hostile to your presence in their territory; your performance is a function of their opinion of you. Oh and there's the children themselves.
    I had a ton of lib arts and thought I could easily become a basic teacher. I was told that I would effectively have to start all over because, while all prerequisites and generals were fulfilled, I would need four years of kumbaya and pseudo-intellectual feeling good and cultural sensitivity (and my lib arts focus was in foreign cultures). I gave up even asking about it.
    I see this as totally connected, but they've established that women teachers do engage in tribalistic or reflexively anti-male behavior, in other words that boys are victims of demonstrable and deliberate discrimination. Whenever I had a female teacher or professor, they either thought I was slightly above average or that I was borderline non-functionally retarded. To bolster the latter opinion I have been informed several times that objective, non-controversial facts were wrong or in dispute.
    The short version is that everything that is natural for a boy to do is wrong, nonconformist or violent. It seems a short step to me that the same gender that creates its own paper superiority (at who knows what innovation sacrifice) would be similarly bigoted in making decisions regarding what to publish. However, I am acclimatizing to the third world.
    Fifteen years ago I remember resolving not to help a choking baby or girl so no angry crowd would mistake me for a pervert. Now when I talk to my age group, we want to survive, we want to not feel this way about our country, but we clearly are looking at keeping quiet in word and deed as a necessary survival strategy. Is whatever we have to offer our country in terms of really applying ourselves (as opposed to dropping out, disconnecting, NEETing and so forth) really worth the undisguised hatred and aggressive violence our country offers to us?
  73. @Paleo Retiree
    Anon -- I've been away from book publishing for more than 10 years now, so my knowledge is out of date. And many of the people I was friendly with back in the day have retired or left the business, which is widely felt to be crumbling. A lot of the rest have left the corporations and set up shop as independent ghostwriters or editors, and are feeling relieved to be well out of the NYC scene.

    I don't think it's quite fair to say that the business is antagonistic to straight guys, though. An ambitious, dynamic, talented male youngster could make a big impact. That said, if that youngster were in many visible ways un (or anti)-PC I think he'd have a very hard time. (There always seem to be some slots for contrarians, though.) What's happened is a more general, self-reinforcing thing: as the business of book publishing has become more corporate and more female, it's become more bland and more worthy. And as that has happened (and as other technologies and media have proliferated), boys have lost interest in books and turned their energies and enthusiasms to other fields. I mean: Is the elementary-school world anti-male? I imagine a straight guy could land a job as an elementary school teacher if he really wanted to. But in practical fact there aren't many straight guys who want to, because, hey, what's really in it for them?

    Regular accusations of child abuse, nut job parents, and all your superiors are angry women who are hostile to your presence in their territory; your performance is a function of their opinion of you. Oh and there’s the children themselves.
    I had a ton of lib arts and thought I could easily become a basic teacher. I was told that I would effectively have to start all over because, while all prerequisites and generals were fulfilled, I would need four years of kumbaya and pseudo-intellectual feeling good and cultural sensitivity (and my lib arts focus was in foreign cultures). I gave up even asking about it.
    I see this as totally connected, but they’ve established that women teachers do engage in tribalistic or reflexively anti-male behavior, in other words that boys are victims of demonstrable and deliberate discrimination. Whenever I had a female teacher or professor, they either thought I was slightly above average or that I was borderline non-functionally retarded. To bolster the latter opinion I have been informed several times that objective, non-controversial facts were wrong or in dispute.
    The short version is that everything that is natural for a boy to do is wrong, nonconformist or violent. It seems a short step to me that the same gender that creates its own paper superiority (at who knows what innovation sacrifice) would be similarly bigoted in making decisions regarding what to publish. However, I am acclimatizing to the third world.
    Fifteen years ago I remember resolving not to help a choking baby or girl so no angry crowd would mistake me for a pervert. Now when I talk to my age group, we want to survive, we want to not feel this way about our country, but we clearly are looking at keeping quiet in word and deed as a necessary survival strategy. Is whatever we have to offer our country in terms of really applying ourselves (as opposed to dropping out, disconnecting, NEETing and so forth) really worth the undisguised hatred and aggressive violence our country offers to us?

    Read More
  74. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Paleo Retiree
    If y'all can bear one of my most cherished Really Deep Thoughts ...

    There's nothing special about books. Many people are prone to get sentimental and/or pompous about "the book," but in reality "the book" is just a container for content of one sort or another. Books don't automatically mean wisdom, seriousness, significance or permanence, let alone immortality -- most books that are made wind up getting pulped (as in not-sold, and then chewed up by giant machines). Many are dopily commercial, many are padded-out magazine articles or short stories, the fact-checking in many nonfiction books is worse than the fact-checking is (or at least was) at magazines ... The idea that the book industry of the past did a lot of responsible caretaking of the culture is a myth. Some publishers and editors did, but a lot of them were pirates, opportunists and bandits.

    And now that we have digital electronics, publishing material in book form often doesn't make a lot of sense. There are often more appealing options. Reference works benefit from constant updating, multimedia and hyperlinks; there are many statements that are better made at shorter rather than longer length; fiction is easier and often more appealing to digest when it's acted-out and made visual; blogging and social-networking technologies make getting ideas, jokes and observations out in public a lot faster and easier than ever before. Think about the quality, the brains, the quickness and the humor that we Steve fans get from Steve on a near-daily basis, for instance. Those are huge virtues that no book or book-publisher can match. And electronics have enabled lots of people who couldn't get published before to join in the general cultural conversation. That's made the conversation a lot richer than it used to be.

    What mainly strikes me these days when I prowl a bookstore handling new books is the question, "Did this really need to be a book?" And I'm often struck by the impression that the editors, agents and authors wrestled with that question too. (If you've been in and around book publishing, you experience bookstores very differently than civilians do -- you see the books, and understand the books, as so many publishing decisions.) Often the answer seems to me to be "No." A substantial book might take me ten or fifteen hours to read. How many subjects do I really have that much interest in? Very few. Meanwhile, the number of subjects I've got a couple of minutes' or a couple of hours' worth of interest in is gigantic.

    Focusing on "the book" per se often seems to me to be as misguided as focusing on the ad campaign instead of the movie, or focusing on the can instead of the food inside. The important thing is the material, not the packaging.

    I say all this as someone who was a bookish kid and who still enjoys book-reading a lot, by the way. 15 years in and around the book biz will burn a lot of illusions off a person, though.

    Agreed and don’t ignore the elephant in the room. Amazon. Disintermediation, the idea that Moore’s Law allows ever greater and more powerful computing power at a lower cost, provides all sorts of removals of middlemen like Publishers in favor of Amazon or Apple, or Netflix, to dominate production and distribution.

    The Music industry has seen its revenues halved from the peak of 1999. Streaming produces too few revenues and most bands outside the big superstars like Madonna (specifically Mumford and Sons) have savaged Tidal, Jay-Z’s new streaming service, as overpriced and encouraging pirating. Even U2 seems to believe that the best way to make money is to perform and sell merchandise and give the recorded music away for free (Songs of Innocence was free on Itunes for a month last year).

    Kindles sell periodically for as little as $49. I have one at that price. Now I can download all sorts of military histories, science fiction (hard/military), mysteries, thrillers etc. I want. For cheaper. Direct from Amazon. Sure Dan Brown and J K Rowling make boatloads of money, but there are writers using Amazon, and not all of them romance bodice rippers either, making middle class livings. Outside the publishing world. The way many bands now don’t have record labels, sell their music as loss leaders to promote touring revenues.

    Its not exact — most authors are not going on speaking tours for the real money. But just as a zillion boards and forums for almost everything have eaten up magazines devoted to special interests, so too are Amazon and maybe Apple dominating publishing. That’s why Hachette had the pricing dispute with Amazon (Amazon demanding lower prices). So Amazon can build market share. Meanwhile Hachette, and the other publishers rely on huge markups and a few popular titles like stuff from Rowling and Dan Brown to subsidize writers who lose money but create “social prestige” in the NYC hothouse environment of Upper Middle Class women seeking boyfriends/husbands from the movers and shakers.

    TL;DR version: Moore’s Law means a computer can take over the middleman in nearly every industry particularly publishing and serve the consumer DIRECT with far fewer costs and greater convenience. Want a book RIGHT NOW? Amazon is just a click away, with specialized recommendations just for you.

    Read More
  75. @Paleo Retiree
    A short note about the term "literary fiction" ... "Literary fiction" as people in the publishing biz (and academia) use the term has zero to do with literary merit. Instead, it's a genre: usually middle-to-highbrow, short on narrative and juicy characters, and big on tone-poem-type writing, up-to-date themes and literary strategies ... Historically, contempo lit fict has its roots not in Shakespeare and Dickens but in the post-WWII boom in Creative Writing departments at colleges and universities. It's writing-workshop fiction, essentially.

    So in publishing there's crime fiction, there's romance and erotica, there's sci-fi, there's a few others, and then there's also literary fiction. The notion that a work of contempo literary fiction is automatically better (let alone automatically more likely to wind up in some future canon) than a work from one of the other contempo genres is one of the better jokes the publishing industry (and academia) have put over on many of the rest of us.

    If you want the long-winded version of the above paragraph (as well as links to some more rants I wrote about book publishing), click here.

    Historically, contempo lit fict has its roots not in Shakespeare and Dickens but in the post-WWII boom in Creative Writing departments at colleges and universities. It’s writing-workshop fiction, essentially.

    I once had a conversation with a guy who taught a Creative Writing class.I told him that the idea of teaching creative writing didn’t make much sense to me.Hemingway and Fitzgerald, after all, turned out OK without taking creative writing courses….

    Read More
  76. @Jus' Sayin'...
    This reminds me of a section of Robert Heinlein biography that I once read. In the 1950s the editor of his "juvenile" series of science fiction novels was a woman. Heinlein was constantly infuriated by her attempts to impose an early form of PC censorship on his novels, e.g., removing all references to firearms. I forget the final upshot but as I remember it didn't work out well either for Heinlein, the publisher, or the series.

    Heinlein waged a long battle with his spinster-librarian-type editor at Scribner’s over his “juvenile” series, but my impression from his book “Grumbles from the Grave” (a collection of letters mostly) is that Heinlein felt he won the important battles. Since the juveniles were expressly aimed at the 13-17 year old boy demographic, a certain amount of action was required to maintain the target audience’s attention.

    This all worked well until 1959′s “Starship Troopers”, when the shrinking violet editor simply couldn’t countenance this militaristic affront to common decency any longer, and RAH decamped with the book to another publisher, who was glad to snap up a Heinlein juvenile, which as it turned out ranked right up there in quality with the best of them (say, “Have Space-Suit, Will Travel”, or “Citizen of the Galaxy”). But RAH was about done with the juveniles anyway; I think there was only one more published (“Podkayne of Mars”).

    When RAH died, one of the mainstream obituaries I read actually cited the juveniles as giving Heinlein a good deal of influence in the real world (as opposed to the world of literary criticism) because so many scientists and engineers had read those books in their teens. Just think about if he had started writing those books 15 years later; by the mid-60s, none of them would have been publishable as a new work by a not-so-well-known writer.

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  77. Syon — Creative Writing departments are best understood not as an institution that imparts practical craft to interested students but as a way to funnel money to Creative Writing teachers. That’s how the Creative Writing biz was partly conceived of initially, btw, in the post-WWII education explosion: as a way to steer state support to writers by giving them non-demanding teaching gigs.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    My late father-in-law said the high school bandteacher gig was more or less devised after WWII to give employment to big band musicians who were coming back from the military but the big band craze was drying up.
  78. @Cagey Beast
    That's a good choice of photo: Saeed Jones' little message was one of my favourites. He's right too that it was white men who chose to hand over our cultural institutions to this motley crew. Over the last few decades, white guys in senior positions scored points and avoided the threat of serious rivals by filling junior posts with this bunch of self-absorbed whiners.

    Among the 23,the black males were very hostile.Oddly the black females were a bit more conciliatory.The worst were the young Ugly/Queer bunch.Some evil McNasties there!

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  79. @Paleo Retiree
    If y'all can bear one of my most cherished Really Deep Thoughts ...

    There's nothing special about books. Many people are prone to get sentimental and/or pompous about "the book," but in reality "the book" is just a container for content of one sort or another. Books don't automatically mean wisdom, seriousness, significance or permanence, let alone immortality -- most books that are made wind up getting pulped (as in not-sold, and then chewed up by giant machines). Many are dopily commercial, many are padded-out magazine articles or short stories, the fact-checking in many nonfiction books is worse than the fact-checking is (or at least was) at magazines ... The idea that the book industry of the past did a lot of responsible caretaking of the culture is a myth. Some publishers and editors did, but a lot of them were pirates, opportunists and bandits.

    And now that we have digital electronics, publishing material in book form often doesn't make a lot of sense. There are often more appealing options. Reference works benefit from constant updating, multimedia and hyperlinks; there are many statements that are better made at shorter rather than longer length; fiction is easier and often more appealing to digest when it's acted-out and made visual; blogging and social-networking technologies make getting ideas, jokes and observations out in public a lot faster and easier than ever before. Think about the quality, the brains, the quickness and the humor that we Steve fans get from Steve on a near-daily basis, for instance. Those are huge virtues that no book or book-publisher can match. And electronics have enabled lots of people who couldn't get published before to join in the general cultural conversation. That's made the conversation a lot richer than it used to be.

    What mainly strikes me these days when I prowl a bookstore handling new books is the question, "Did this really need to be a book?" And I'm often struck by the impression that the editors, agents and authors wrestled with that question too. (If you've been in and around book publishing, you experience bookstores very differently than civilians do -- you see the books, and understand the books, as so many publishing decisions.) Often the answer seems to me to be "No." A substantial book might take me ten or fifteen hours to read. How many subjects do I really have that much interest in? Very few. Meanwhile, the number of subjects I've got a couple of minutes' or a couple of hours' worth of interest in is gigantic.

    Focusing on "the book" per se often seems to me to be as misguided as focusing on the ad campaign instead of the movie, or focusing on the can instead of the food inside. The important thing is the material, not the packaging.

    I say all this as someone who was a bookish kid and who still enjoys book-reading a lot, by the way. 15 years in and around the book biz will burn a lot of illusions off a person, though.

    So much product is this awful women’s junk…

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  80. Talented and brainy guys who want to show off their stuff (and hope to make money doing so) became more likely to go into TV, movies, singer-songwriter-style music, and computers and videogames.

    Yup. This matches my memories of the entertainment industry in L.A.: It was filled with brainy, artsy guys who seemed to have gravitated to Hollywood because they were too stereotypically masculine and heterosexual to find a comfortable fit in other creative fields.

    Steve’s sort of touched on this with his stories about “Hollywood liberal gun nuts.” John Milius was an extreme example of the type I’m thinking of — few of them were that enthusiastically masculine (or conservative) — but they certainly leaned in that direction.

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  81. @OsRazor
    Rowlings or Dan Brown are most definitely not literary. They fall in the same category as James Patterson (who publishes about half a dozen books a year alone or with others) or Tom Clancy and John Grisham. Poor Stephen King has spent most of his adult life telling people his stuff is literary and few take him seriously. Another "literary" author I forgot to mention who's made a bundle is Ian McEwan.

    My point about Wolfe is that I see him as the closest Dickens-like author the US has produced, but no one else much thinks so.

    I think the Harry Potter books are excellent children’s literature. The first three are much better than the last four and there’s a reason. I believe the last chapter of the third book is called “Parting of the ways,” and was a set up for a grand battle between good and evil. But then September 11th, 2001 and the War on Terror. Rowling didn’t want to write an extended analogy to America’s war on the Axis of Evil. There ensued the longest inter-book pause as she struggled to redirect the plot. And she produced a second rate book about puberty. But it wasn’t really her fault. Her plot was marred by events and she couldn’t fully regain her footing.

    The fabric and atmosphere of the books are good. The language is good. There are many references to classical literature and Latin, and also to all sorts of British dialects and Northern European myths. These become hooks for more serious learning. The morality of the books is sound. No sex, no oaths. Prigs and villains are made to look bad. Honest, nice people are made to look good. Kids enjoy the books and I can’t think of a single harm they inflict.

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    • Replies: @OsRazor
    I agree with everything you say, although Rowlings (pretty liberal) can't help but to throw a lot of diversity and interracial this and that in her Potter books (but in the end all the main characters wind up marrying other pasty, pale types).

    My point had to do with whether anyone thinks Rowlings is literary--worthy of study on the basis of style, innovation or ideas. It's not that Rowlings' books were written for children--her two "adult" books were reviewed pretty condescendingly.

    And being labeled a genre writer is hardly an insult. They make the money.
  82. @David
    I think the Harry Potter books are excellent children's literature. The first three are much better than the last four and there's a reason. I believe the last chapter of the third book is called "Parting of the ways," and was a set up for a grand battle between good and evil. But then September 11th, 2001 and the War on Terror. Rowling didn't want to write an extended analogy to America's war on the Axis of Evil. There ensued the longest inter-book pause as she struggled to redirect the plot. And she produced a second rate book about puberty. But it wasn't really her fault. Her plot was marred by events and she couldn't fully regain her footing.

    The fabric and atmosphere of the books are good. The language is good. There are many references to classical literature and Latin, and also to all sorts of British dialects and Northern European myths. These become hooks for more serious learning. The morality of the books is sound. No sex, no oaths. Prigs and villains are made to look bad. Honest, nice people are made to look good. Kids enjoy the books and I can't think of a single harm they inflict.

    I agree with everything you say, although Rowlings (pretty liberal) can’t help but to throw a lot of diversity and interracial this and that in her Potter books (but in the end all the main characters wind up marrying other pasty, pale types).

    My point had to do with whether anyone thinks Rowlings is literary–worthy of study on the basis of style, innovation or ideas. It’s not that Rowlings’ books were written for children–her two “adult” books were reviewed pretty condescendingly.

    And being labeled a genre writer is hardly an insult. They make the money.

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  83. @Miss Laura
    A lovely writer, George MacDonald Fraser. Read his WWII memoir Quartered Safe Out Here.

    Fraser was, indeed a lovely writer. If there’s any justice, his Flashman books will still be read, with pleasure, a hundred years from now.

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  84. @Mr. Anon
    "OsRazor says:

    @Steve Sailer

    Rowlings or Dan Brown are most definitely not literary. They fall in the same category as James Patterson (who publishes about half a dozen books a year alone or with others) or Tom Clancy and John Grisham. Poor Stephen King has spent most of his adult life telling people his stuff is literary and few take him seriously. Another “literary” author I forgot to mention who’s made a bundle is Ian McEwan.

    My point about Wolfe is that I see him as the closest Dickens-like author the US has produced, but no one else much thinks so."

    The demarcation between literary fiction (i.e. "serious" literature) and "entertainments" is perhaps weaker than it use to be, because most "serious" literature now is crap. A good rule of thumb seems to be this: if it is prominently displayed in an airport bookstore, then it is not literary fiction. As you said, Brown is definitely not literary. However, I do consider Wolfe to be literary fiction (even though he might be sold in airports), in fact his work is just about the only literary fiction that's any good anymore.

    Some stuff that would be considered genre fiction is everybit as good as the best serious literature. George MacDonald Frasier's Flashman novels, for example - I would place them on a par with Robert Graves historical novels.

    Hmmm…the Flashman novels vs. I Claudius, Claudius the God & Count Belisarius…

    I, too would place them on a par.

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  85. @Paleo Retiree
    Syon -- Creative Writing departments are best understood not as an institution that imparts practical craft to interested students but as a way to funnel money to Creative Writing teachers. That's how the Creative Writing biz was partly conceived of initially, btw, in the post-WWII education explosion: as a way to steer state support to writers by giving them non-demanding teaching gigs.

    My late father-in-law said the high school bandteacher gig was more or less devised after WWII to give employment to big band musicians who were coming back from the military but the big band craze was drying up.

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  86. MQ — Nope, there are very few black people in the mainstream publishing business. That’s just a fact of life, and the business subjects itself to regular throes of self-flagellation about it. And reading and writing just aren’t the factors in black life that they are in (say) Jewish life or educated-Brit life. But that certainly doesn’t mean there are no black readers or writers. And black publishing, writing and reading are really interesting topics anyway — I did a lot of reporting about it over the years. There used to be a fairly large number of black bookstores as well as small publishers publishing black writers and catering to black readers. That’s less the case these days — as with book publishing and selling generally, many stores and publishers have closed up shop. As for mainstream publishing, every now and then some phenom (like Terry McMillan) will come along, sell like mad, cause a huge fuss at bookstores and leave publishers thinking, “Good lord, so there *is* a market for black-oriented books after all!” (I liked Terry McMillan’s early novels a lot, fwiw.) But then it all disappears to virtually nothing until the next phenom comes along. But as you point out, there are fairly lively subgenres (erotica, romance, etc) that do cater to black people. But generally speaking black people don’t read or write books (or get involved in the book publishing biz) in anything like the numbers that some other populations do. They’ve got their own verbal traditions: preaching, rap, storytelling, standup, playing the dozens, etc.

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  87. Steve — The G.I. Bill and the explosion in education (the creation of massive state university systems especially) post-WWII had a huge impact on the American arts. “The arts-appreciation racket,” as one prof-friend of mine fondly calls it. He’s employed by the system himself, but he thinks that the American arts would be healthier if the academic arts and creativity racket were destroyed.

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  88. @SPMoore8
    Basically, if you can't make enough of a living with sufficient security to marry and raise a family most men won't go into it, or stay very long. That's why straight white cis-men are sparse in publishing, as well as journalism, as well as a number of other fields.

    There are some exceptions. For example, a number of people I knew years ago in fields like publishing, journalism, and particularly academia had a lot of family support: parents, wives' families, and so on. But the bottom line is that the money has to be there, and if it isn't, men will generally avoid it, because, in fact, having a career is not the only thing a man wants in his life.

    So what's happening to all these bright young men with terrific senses of humor and great writing skills? From what I have seen with my kids and their peers, they end up doing work where their skills are superfluous, and they end up doing their writing for free, on their own time, on the web. I'm still not sure how that will play out in terms of 21st Century literary culture yet.

    I know that traditional 20th century journalism is basically dead. That’s the industry I’m in, and the future is quite grim.

    It’s nearly impossible to find younger people with the proper skills who are interested in pursuing a career in traditional journalism these days — even TV has a hard time with it. (This accounts for much of the decline in the quality of journalism over the past couple of decades.) It’s not that the talent doesn’t exist — it’s just that the kids with the right skills typically dip their toe in the water and then move on to something else once they find out how awful the pay is. I’ve seen the same thing happen again and again and again over the past decade: Some incredibly talented kid will come work for us, either as an intern or a cub reporter. They’ll do terrific work for a short time — then jump to a higher-paying career at the first opportunity.

    One young lady we hired was an absolute crackerjack reporter who could have easily gone on to a stellar career at some place like the New York Times. She was great at breaking stories; she seriously could have had a Pulitzer in her future. She left journalism to become a swimsuit model, where she made three times as much money.

    The industry right now is basically kept on life support by older folks like me, who stay because we don’t know how to do anything else and we’re too old to easily switch careers. There are a tiny number of younger folks who stay because they love it and they’re able to rely on family financial support, but there aren’t enough of them to keep the industry afloat. There’s probably enough of them to keep a few big, establishment outlets like The New York Times supplied with talent, but that’s about it. Once boomers start to retire in sufficient numbers, the lower rungs of the industry will die; they’re in their last throes already.

    Basically, traditional journalism will probably go the way of jazz: a handful of elite performers, motivated entirely by passion, catering strictly to a well-heeled, insular, slightly snobbish audience. The real action will all be in rock and rap — whatever their equivalents are in nonfiction writing.

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    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
    Don't take this personally - because that's not how it's meant - but the mass media can't die off fast enough. If the mass media does any good it's far outweighed by the unrelenting gaslighting it inflicts on the rest of us for fun and profit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting
  89. anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “…But RAH was about done with the juveniles anyway; I think there was only one more published (“Podkayne of Mars”).”

    The ending of the original version of Podkayne of Mars was strange for a juvenile. It’s been a long time since I read it, but didn’t Heinlein write a couple of endings, because his original ending was over-riden by the female editor? Spoiler. I think I read a version of the book with multiple endings included. In his original ending he killed the main character off, or some other similar bleak adult slap-in the face. Kind of like one of those Russian movies where all the good guys loose in the end, even if they win.

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  90. @Mr. Blank
    I know that traditional 20th century journalism is basically dead. That's the industry I'm in, and the future is quite grim.

    It's nearly impossible to find younger people with the proper skills who are interested in pursuing a career in traditional journalism these days -- even TV has a hard time with it. (This accounts for much of the decline in the quality of journalism over the past couple of decades.) It's not that the talent doesn't exist -- it's just that the kids with the right skills typically dip their toe in the water and then move on to something else once they find out how awful the pay is. I've seen the same thing happen again and again and again over the past decade: Some incredibly talented kid will come work for us, either as an intern or a cub reporter. They'll do terrific work for a short time -- then jump to a higher-paying career at the first opportunity.

    One young lady we hired was an absolute crackerjack reporter who could have easily gone on to a stellar career at some place like the New York Times. She was great at breaking stories; she seriously could have had a Pulitzer in her future. She left journalism to become a swimsuit model, where she made three times as much money.

    The industry right now is basically kept on life support by older folks like me, who stay because we don't know how to do anything else and we're too old to easily switch careers. There are a tiny number of younger folks who stay because they love it and they're able to rely on family financial support, but there aren't enough of them to keep the industry afloat. There's probably enough of them to keep a few big, establishment outlets like The New York Times supplied with talent, but that's about it. Once boomers start to retire in sufficient numbers, the lower rungs of the industry will die; they're in their last throes already.

    Basically, traditional journalism will probably go the way of jazz: a handful of elite performers, motivated entirely by passion, catering strictly to a well-heeled, insular, slightly snobbish audience. The real action will all be in rock and rap -- whatever their equivalents are in nonfiction writing.

    Don’t take this personally – because that’s not how it’s meant – but the mass media can’t die off fast enough. If the mass media does any good it’s far outweighed by the unrelenting gaslighting it inflicts on the rest of us for fun and profit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting

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  91. @MQ
    There are very few black people in the business....blacks, although they have their own big verbal traditions, don’t have a big tradition of writing and publishing. (Don’t shoot me for saying that. Albert Murray and Ralph Ellison, great black intellectuals, both made the point.)

    This seems way off to me. Pop publishing for black audiences is a major niche market -- go to any Barnes and Nobles in the Northeast or an area with a significant black population and you will see lots and lots of books on the shelves by black authors for black audiences. Black romance (some of which is effectively soft core porn) is a huge genre, so is self-help and religious/christian. Black editors must play a major role in this business.

    At the fancier/more literary level, blacks have done pretty well in the major literary award/prestige sweepstakes -- James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison back in the day, Toni Morrison today (whatever you think of her she has been very successful in those circles), lots of respected mid-range authors like James Ellroy (genre), Colson Whitehead (literary) etc. When you consider that blacks are just 12% of the population they seem if anything overrepresented in literature at lots of different levels. As they are in many of the creative/performance fields.

    Um…James Ellroy is white.

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  92. @Paleo Retiree
    If y'all can bear one of my most cherished Really Deep Thoughts ...

    There's nothing special about books. Many people are prone to get sentimental and/or pompous about "the book," but in reality "the book" is just a container for content of one sort or another. Books don't automatically mean wisdom, seriousness, significance or permanence, let alone immortality -- most books that are made wind up getting pulped (as in not-sold, and then chewed up by giant machines). Many are dopily commercial, many are padded-out magazine articles or short stories, the fact-checking in many nonfiction books is worse than the fact-checking is (or at least was) at magazines ... The idea that the book industry of the past did a lot of responsible caretaking of the culture is a myth. Some publishers and editors did, but a lot of them were pirates, opportunists and bandits.

    And now that we have digital electronics, publishing material in book form often doesn't make a lot of sense. There are often more appealing options. Reference works benefit from constant updating, multimedia and hyperlinks; there are many statements that are better made at shorter rather than longer length; fiction is easier and often more appealing to digest when it's acted-out and made visual; blogging and social-networking technologies make getting ideas, jokes and observations out in public a lot faster and easier than ever before. Think about the quality, the brains, the quickness and the humor that we Steve fans get from Steve on a near-daily basis, for instance. Those are huge virtues that no book or book-publisher can match. And electronics have enabled lots of people who couldn't get published before to join in the general cultural conversation. That's made the conversation a lot richer than it used to be.

    What mainly strikes me these days when I prowl a bookstore handling new books is the question, "Did this really need to be a book?" And I'm often struck by the impression that the editors, agents and authors wrestled with that question too. (If you've been in and around book publishing, you experience bookstores very differently than civilians do -- you see the books, and understand the books, as so many publishing decisions.) Often the answer seems to me to be "No." A substantial book might take me ten or fifteen hours to read. How many subjects do I really have that much interest in? Very few. Meanwhile, the number of subjects I've got a couple of minutes' or a couple of hours' worth of interest in is gigantic.

    Focusing on "the book" per se often seems to me to be as misguided as focusing on the ad campaign instead of the movie, or focusing on the can instead of the food inside. The important thing is the material, not the packaging.

    I say all this as someone who was a bookish kid and who still enjoys book-reading a lot, by the way. 15 years in and around the book biz will burn a lot of illusions off a person, though.

    Thanks for the excellent comments on book publishing, PR.

    I’m also fascinated by people who are bibliophiles in the strict sense of being more interested in the physical forms books take than the content they contain. I’ve always been a huge reader, but could never have cared much less about the forms my books have taken. Sure, an elegant book is a pleasure, but I’ve always seen it as a minor one in comparison to what a book actually says. Obviously, though, many people love both books’ form and content, and some really only seem to care about the former . . . .

    I’ve often noted similarities in this book form/content continuum and the way people see churches. This is no accident, clearly, as Christianity is a religion of the book, so the two are inescapably intertwined.

    Churches also have a range of members who vary in terms of how much form and content mean to them. On one hand, you’ve got devout members who’d be happy to worship in a parking garage, so long as they felt they were worshiping in Spirit and in truth. On the other end you’ve got the people who are drawn to beautiful buildings (and — perhaps my own weakness — to elegant and euphonious liturgies), and who can tolerate any amount of variability in preaching and core beliefs, right up to and including outright heresy.

    There is a great deal of danger in caring too much about earthly forms . . . .

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  93. “Invoke those poor, poor Indians (whom you don’t give a damn about)”

    Actually, I am 1/8 Cherokee.

    “Clearly, Latin Americans, Africans, and Middle-Easterners ARE foreigners to these shores.”

    Just like Europeans. Hell, ANY group are foreigners to these shores.

    “because once those people come hear they will all become bookworms, despite not having much interest in books in their own lands.”

    There is a difference in having access to books and having interest in books. In any event, hotshot, prove your assertion.

    “Now that John Stewart has left the airwaves, how will you even know what to think anymore.”



    I see how it works. Your “juvenile snark” is “sophisticated commentary”.

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    • Replies: @whorefinder

    Your “juvenile snark” is “sophisticated commentary”.
     
    Methinks the lefty doth project too much.
    , @syonredux

    Actually, I am 1/8 Cherokee.
     
    Which is utterly meaningless, dear fellow.If you want Amerind street cred, you need to be at least half.

    “Clearly, Latin Americans, Africans, and Middle-Easterners ARE foreigners to these shores.”

    Just like Europeans. Hell, ANY group are foreigners to these shores.
     

    No, dear fellow.You see, a thing called a sovereign nation was established a couple of centuries back.People who are not citizens are foreigners.
    , @Truth

    I see how it works. Your “juvenile snark” is “sophisticated commentary”.
     
    The Crow does have a point with that one, Grasshopper.
    , @Reg Cæsar

    Actually, I am 1/8 Cherokee.

     

    Great. Just what we need-- an aboriginal Truth.
  94. @Trayvon Zimmerman
    Back in the 90's, some national organization of bookstores estimated that blacks, who were thirteen percent of the population, were buying one percent of the books sold in the country. Of course, they were lamenting that fact, and blaming whitey for it. But I doubt if that percentage has changed much at all, because the simple fact is that the vast majority of blacks have zero interest in reading. And the books they do buy tend to be trash, and I'm not talking about Toni Morrison or Maya Angelou level hogwash. I'm talking about stuff like Baby Momma Drama and Confessions of a Side Bitch.

    What black women are really waiting for is a leather-bound collected works of Sista Souljah.

    http://www.amazon.com/Sister-Souljah/e/B000APV5KO

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    • Replies: @James Kabala
    Does anyone really pay attention to her? I think being condemned by Bill Clinton was by far the high point of her career. I never heard of before (granted I was eleven at the time) or since.
  95. @Corvinus
    “Invoke those poor, poor Indians (whom you don’t give a damn about)”

    Actually, I am 1/8 Cherokee.

    “Clearly, Latin Americans, Africans, and Middle-Easterners ARE foreigners to these shores.”

    Just like Europeans. Hell, ANY group are foreigners to these shores.

    “because once those people come hear they will all become bookworms, despite not having much interest in books in their own lands.”

    There is a difference in having access to books and having interest in books. In any event, hotshot, prove your assertion.

    “Now that John Stewart has left the airwaves, how will you even know what to think anymore.”



    I see how it works. Your “juvenile snark” is “sophisticated commentary”.

    Your “juvenile snark” is “sophisticated commentary”.

    Methinks the lefty doth project too much.

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  96. @Corvinus
    “Invoke those poor, poor Indians (whom you don’t give a damn about)”

    Actually, I am 1/8 Cherokee.

    “Clearly, Latin Americans, Africans, and Middle-Easterners ARE foreigners to these shores.”

    Just like Europeans. Hell, ANY group are foreigners to these shores.

    “because once those people come hear they will all become bookworms, despite not having much interest in books in their own lands.”

    There is a difference in having access to books and having interest in books. In any event, hotshot, prove your assertion.

    “Now that John Stewart has left the airwaves, how will you even know what to think anymore.”



    I see how it works. Your “juvenile snark” is “sophisticated commentary”.

    Actually, I am 1/8 Cherokee.

    Which is utterly meaningless, dear fellow.If you want Amerind street cred, you need to be at least half.

    “Clearly, Latin Americans, Africans, and Middle-Easterners ARE foreigners to these shores.”

    Just like Europeans. Hell, ANY group are foreigners to these shores.

    No, dear fellow.You see, a thing called a sovereign nation was established a couple of centuries back.People who are not citizens are foreigners.

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  97. @Corvinus
    “Invoke those poor, poor Indians (whom you don’t give a damn about)”

    Actually, I am 1/8 Cherokee.

    “Clearly, Latin Americans, Africans, and Middle-Easterners ARE foreigners to these shores.”

    Just like Europeans. Hell, ANY group are foreigners to these shores.

    “because once those people come hear they will all become bookworms, despite not having much interest in books in their own lands.”

    There is a difference in having access to books and having interest in books. In any event, hotshot, prove your assertion.

    “Now that John Stewart has left the airwaves, how will you even know what to think anymore.”



    I see how it works. Your “juvenile snark” is “sophisticated commentary”.

    I see how it works. Your “juvenile snark” is “sophisticated commentary”.

    The Crow does have a point with that one, Grasshopper.

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  98. @Corvinus
    “Invoke those poor, poor Indians (whom you don’t give a damn about)”

    Actually, I am 1/8 Cherokee.

    “Clearly, Latin Americans, Africans, and Middle-Easterners ARE foreigners to these shores.”

    Just like Europeans. Hell, ANY group are foreigners to these shores.

    “because once those people come hear they will all become bookworms, despite not having much interest in books in their own lands.”

    There is a difference in having access to books and having interest in books. In any event, hotshot, prove your assertion.

    “Now that John Stewart has left the airwaves, how will you even know what to think anymore.”



    I see how it works. Your “juvenile snark” is “sophisticated commentary”.

    Actually, I am 1/8 Cherokee.

    Great. Just what we need– an aboriginal Truth.

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux

    Actually, I am 1/8 Cherokee.

    Great. Just what we need– an aboriginal Truth.
     
    Well, let's be fair. Truth has hypodescent (AKA, the one drop rule) on his side. Being 1/8 Cherokee is pretty boring in comparison.
  99. “Corvinus says:

    There is a difference in having access to books and having interest in books. In any event, hotshot, prove your assertion.”

    Why don’t you prove yours?

    So, you posit whole groups of people who are secretly thirsty for knowledge, but just never got around to figuring out a way of distributing it. People who want “access” to books (What’s the deal with you liberals and the word “access”, anyway?) go to a bookstore. A nation that wants “access” to books develops a publishing industry. If those countries don’t have much in that line, it’s because there isn’t much demand for it.

    And, BTW, compared to anything you write, just about anything else is indeed sophisticated.

    Nitwit.

    Read More
  100. “Truth says:

    I see how it works. Your “juvenile snark” is “sophisticated commentary”.

    The Crow does have a point with that one, Grasshopper.”

    He has no more point than you ever do, idiot.

    Good work Corvinus – you have a fan in “Truth”, a man who believes that cars can be fueled with water.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Truth

    you have a fan in “Truth”, a man who believes that cars can be fueled with water.
     
    Grasshopper, you really are getting old.


    http://henrymakow.com/2013/11/Illuminati-Suppress-Water-Powered-Cars.html
  101. @Reg Cæsar

    Actually, I am 1/8 Cherokee.

     

    Great. Just what we need-- an aboriginal Truth.

    Actually, I am 1/8 Cherokee.

    Great. Just what we need– an aboriginal Truth.

    Well, let’s be fair. Truth has hypodescent (AKA, the one drop rule) on his side. Being 1/8 Cherokee is pretty boring in comparison.

    Read More
  102. @Seth Largo
    The epitome of bad-ass Southern writers circa 1960s is Charles Portis. Went from being a Marine in Korea to NYC journalism, then London journalism, then fiction.

    His books, in addition to being hilarious, sport a handful of subtle and not-so-subtle scenes that iSteve readers especially would find enjoyable.

    Portis, like Dan Jenkins, began his writing career at a daily newspaper in the South before being hired in New York.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Charles Portis had the desk next to Tom Wolfe at the Herald-Tribune. All the reporters boasted over drinks that they were going to get out of the rat race, go hole up in a fishing shack somewhere and write the Great American Novel. Portis did it and wrote True Grit and a couple of novels that aficionados think are even better.
  103. @Malcolm X-Lax
    What black women are really waiting for is a leather-bound collected works of Sista Souljah.

    http://www.amazon.com/Sister-Souljah/e/B000APV5KO

    Does anyone really pay attention to her? I think being condemned by Bill Clinton was by far the high point of her career. I never heard of before (granted I was eleven at the time) or since.

    Read More
  104. Black tradition of not writing and publishing also extends to their tradition of not liking to read books. Back when Oakland used to have a Barnes & Noble, I saw very few Negroes inside the couple of times I went there. If you want to be surrounded by a lot of Blacks in Oakland, avoid the bookstores and go to a Golden State Warriors game or a Walmart.

    I grew up in a gentrifying neighborhood. Across the street on two sides was the start of the ghetto. We repeatedly had our cars broken into, and learned not to leave anything of value in our cars overnight. We had a stack of overdue library books in one unlocked car for months. From what I could gather, we could have hidden a couple thousand bucks in 100 dollar bills in that stack and it would’ve been perfectly safe.

    Read More
  105. @SFG
    I'm more optimistic than most of the people here, actually; it's easier to get to an audience without going through a NYT publishing house. Look at 50 Shades of Grey, which despite execrable writing (everyone admits this) showed America that ladies still like dominant, successful men. Look at the Sad Puppies campaign, which bypassed the clique running the Hugos.

    The tide is turning. Our hand is at their throats, yet they spy us only dimly... ;)

    I thought 50 shades just showed what gold diggers would be willing to put up with for gold. Its not gay guys earning money in the private sector that are pushing for gay divorce and alimony to be possible.

    Read More
  106. @Brutusale
    Portis, like Dan Jenkins, began his writing career at a daily newspaper in the South before being hired in New York.

    Charles Portis had the desk next to Tom Wolfe at the Herald-Tribune. All the reporters boasted over drinks that they were going to get out of the rat race, go hole up in a fishing shack somewhere and write the Great American Novel. Portis did it and wrote True Grit and a couple of novels that aficionados think are even better.

    Read More
  107. @Mr. Anon
    "Truth says:

    @Corvinus

    I see how it works. Your “juvenile snark” is “sophisticated commentary”.

    The Crow does have a point with that one, Grasshopper."

    He has no more point than you ever do, idiot.

    Good work Corvinus - you have a fan in "Truth", a man who believes that cars can be fueled with water.

    you have a fan in “Truth”, a man who believes that cars can be fueled with water.

    Grasshopper, you really are getting old.

    http://henrymakow.com/2013/11/Illuminati-Suppress-Water-Powered-Cars.html

    Read More
  108. […] Sailer was kind enough to highlight a comment I made on his blog about the demographics of the American book publishing world from 1985ish to […]

    Read More
  109. […] Related: Wright on Chu’s visit to PBS. More. Related: The message of the SJWs. Related: The demographic realities of publishing. […]

    Read More
  110. I taught high school English from 2001 – 2004 (yep, I was a dotcom casualty). One thing that sticks out from that time is how popular the book Fight Club was among boys from all cliques. There were jocks reading and talking about this book with their friends. I was struck because talking about a literary novel voluntarily would absolutely not have happened among the jocks of my early 80s high school years, not matter how rough and tumble the book may have been. I mean, my nerdy friends passed around copies of Kerouac and Thompson, but not the jocks.

    I think there’s a huge market for masculine, literary writing that isn’t being tapped, the aforementioned Chuck Palahniuk notwithstanding. But I don’t really bemoan the lack of the straight white male viewpoint in publishing, because there isn’t a lack. We still dominate the conversation, it’s just that other viewpoints are now being heard with more frequency and reach. And, as the longstanding hegemony, it’s disconcerting and unfamiliar, and so we mistake it for a transition of power, when in fact, to my mind, it isn’t. We’re just no longer the tacit viewpoint.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Truth

    I taught high school English from 2001 – 2004 (yep, I was a dotcom casualty). One thing that sticks out from that time is how popular the book Fight Club was among boys from all cliques.
     
    The movie came out in '99.
  111. @JV
    I taught high school English from 2001 - 2004 (yep, I was a dotcom casualty). One thing that sticks out from that time is how popular the book Fight Club was among boys from all cliques. There were jocks reading and talking about this book with their friends. I was struck because talking about a literary novel voluntarily would absolutely not have happened among the jocks of my early 80s high school years, not matter how rough and tumble the book may have been. I mean, my nerdy friends passed around copies of Kerouac and Thompson, but not the jocks.

    I think there's a huge market for masculine, literary writing that isn't being tapped, the aforementioned Chuck Palahniuk notwithstanding. But I don't really bemoan the lack of the straight white male viewpoint in publishing, because there isn't a lack. We still dominate the conversation, it's just that other viewpoints are now being heard with more frequency and reach. And, as the longstanding hegemony, it's disconcerting and unfamiliar, and so we mistake it for a transition of power, when in fact, to my mind, it isn't. We're just no longer the tacit viewpoint.

    I taught high school English from 2001 – 2004 (yep, I was a dotcom casualty). One thing that sticks out from that time is how popular the book Fight Club was among boys from all cliques.

    The movie came out in ’99.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    No doubt the movie introduced the book to those kids. But they went ahead and not only read it, but passed it around and discussed it. That's what struck me.
  112. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Truth

    I taught high school English from 2001 – 2004 (yep, I was a dotcom casualty). One thing that sticks out from that time is how popular the book Fight Club was among boys from all cliques.
     
    The movie came out in '99.

    No doubt the movie introduced the book to those kids. But they went ahead and not only read it, but passed it around and discussed it. That’s what struck me.

    Read More

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