Over the past month I’ve discovered a number of reasons why I prefer to try to go it alone as a writer, and I’m confident I’ll be talking about them in the near future. Reading the following quote, however, made me realize that some of the reasons are more moral and ethical than they are practical:
While the distant past may not be germane, we do have to go back to the middle years of the twentieth century. At that time, publishing was certainly a business, as it is today, but it was a business that had accepted a low rate of return on investment, in exchange for the thrill (and it is a thrill) of being part of the cultural life of the country, and indeed, the world. But in the 1980s and 1990s, bigger publishers began gobbling up smaller publishers, and then multinational corporations swallowed up the bigger publishers. Suddenly these houses needed to service the debt involved in buyouts, on top of the relatively modest six-to-eight percent return on investment that Bennett Cerf and Alfred Knopf had once been happy to receive.
I think that’s right. I also think it explains why I feel the way I do about the publishing industry — like they’ve been making suckers out of me and everyone else. [ Read more ]