Interesting Writings — A Few Links Before I Sleep

First up, a very succinct explanation of the e-book price developments from I had thought that Amazon did not have enough juice to get the DOJ interested in blocking agency pricing and that it was other factors. But apparently it actually was Amazon, trying to keep their virtual monopoly on the field.

Second, I am constantly dealing with new writers who are obsessed with grammar and who seem to believe that book and magazine editors are too, as if trying to publish was like sitting for an English exam. There seems to be difficulty understanding that there is not just one working grammar for the English language and that fiction writing is not concerned with grammar at all, but with sound, rhythm and flow. Stephen Fry tackles this problem head-on with some lovely graphics in this video. (You have to go to the article to get to the audio/video recording on this one, but it’s worth it.)

Third, the Orchard Gardens school in Massachusetts got themselves a principle who decided to stop treating his troubled elementary school like a prison, as has been the wont the last few decades as far right politicians continually slash and steal from school budgets, releasing the security guards and hiring art teachers instead. It has created a remarkable turnaround in the school. My favorite part is this quote from the article, which I intend to drag out during people insisting that there are rules for fiction writing despite all evidence to the contrary:


Eighth grader Keyvaughn Little said he’s come out of his shell since the school’s turnaround.


His grades have improved, too. Keyvaughn says it’s because of the teachers — and new confidence stemming from art class.  


“There’s no one particular way of doing something,” he said. “And art helps you like see that. So if you take that with you, and bring it on, it will actually help you see that in academics or anything else, there’s not one specific way you have to do something.”

Lastly, not so much interesting as potentially disastrous: Pearson Penguin and Bertelsman Random House got approval by the DOJ to merge (meaning the Big Six are now the Big Five.) This creates the largest publishing company in the U.S. out of the two largest, completely foreign owned, a global behemoth that will put out 15,000 books a year through various imprints, educational and retail. It means that authors have fewer places to sell to if they want partner publishing (which still brings in a lot more money to a lot more authors than self-publishing and will for quite a long time.) It means that they have fewer recourses if a particular title doesn’t do well, creating a black mark in the not very astute sales computer systems. (And as the article notes, Hachette bought Hyperion — which had been owned by Disney — also increasing their size.) Overall, it will mean more opportunities for more title licenses, but fewer resources given to each title, meaning fewer sales possibly per title.

Random House already had 3o percent of the U.S. market. I’m guessing that this takes them near 50 percent at least. And yet the DOJ okayed it, after pinging all the publishers for the agency price contracts. So this is exceedingly strange, but the deal has been in the works for awhile now. This is likely to have a far greater impact on book publishing than e-books did in the long term.

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Filed under book publishing, Life, Writing

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