Is the Publishing Industry Dead Already?

Over at the Daily Beast, Dale Peck thinks so. He has a wonderful rant about the Publishing Industry. Peck is a First Class Ranter, even when I don’t wholly agree with him. I must confess that I have yet to read any of his fiction…

One of Peck’s examples for his thesis about the sorry state of publishing was the removal of the word “nigger” from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,

According to Suzanne La Rosa of NewSouth (!) Books, the decision to replace the word “nigger” with the word “slave“ was done to “sav[e] the books.” According to the editor, Alan Gribben, “Both novels can be enjoyed deeply and authentically,” not despite the change, but because of it.

This is a lie. I know it, you know it, and Alan Gribben and Suzanne La Rosa know it—and if they don’t know it, then God knows they have no business editing fiction or educating children.

What’s funny about this isn’t just that Peck is correct in his judgment on this point. It’s that here’s something that the editors attached to the very end of Peck’s essay.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story contained an offensive headline that violated The Daily Beast’s standards. The headline was removed when senior editors were made aware of it. We apologize for the error.

Am I the only one who notices this irony? Does anyone know what the original “offensive” headline was?

Anyway, Peck’s ultimate opinion on publishing being dead is encapsulated here,

This is not a publishing industry worth fighting for, not least because it isn’t the publishing industry as we have been taught to think of it—a high-minded cultural enterprise facilitating the flow of books from writers to readers—but because the woeful state of publishing today is the industry’s fault—and when I say “industry” I include, most especially, writers, because it is we who have allowed publishing companies and retailers to dictate the terms by which we turn our words into books and deliver our books to readers. And those terms, to put it as bluntly as possible, are fucked. New York publishers make Detroit automakers look like geniuses. They give away the bulk of their money—of our money—to a series of increasingly irrelevant, monopolistic, intermediaries, and, on top of that, allow retailers to return merchandise they can’t sell—at the publisher’s expense—for a full refund. They spend virtually nothing on promotion, relying instead on a fast-disappearing review culture, and, most damningly, they not only refuse to change the way they do business, but expect writers to bear the brunt of the disaster in the form of decreased advances, sales, and opportunities to publish work that doesn’t fit into an increasingly homogenized marketplace.

I thought after reading this that if the publishing industry is dead, then it’s got a deceptively good looking zombie corpse.

Then later today, I found out courtesy of PassiveGuy’s Twitter account, that the Kardashians are writing a novel! zOMG! And there’s a contest!

The currently untitled novel, written by Kourtney, Kim and Khloé Kardashian, needs a title! All you have to do is come up with the winning title which will be featured on this gorgeous, leopard-print cover.

I think it is now safe to say that the U.S. Publishing Industry will be buried in a leopard print colored coffin at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.


One thought on “Is the Publishing Industry Dead Already?

  1. Pingback: Is the Publishing Industry Dead Already? | In Praise of Words

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