Friday, February 12, 2016
Disruptive Forces: Politics and Publishing
I should be writing my blog, but instead I’m glued to my television set. The New Hampshire results are coming in. This is anything but the end of the political campaign, but a commentator just used a phrase to describe one candidate that I think probably could be used for the entire process. He called the candidate “a disruptive force.”
During the past few weeks, I’ve been concerned about many issues: health care, terrorism, poverty, international relations, immigration, cultural diversity and criminal justice to name a few. Although no candidate and I could ever agree on solutions for all of these issues, my hope has been that I could identify one that either holds most of my views or has rational proposals I’ve never considered.
The fact is the rhetoric is different every day. Muddled, middle, disruptive, and changing are all words being used by the pundits to describe the campaigns and how the process will whittle down the number of candidates in the race. These same words can be applied to the writing arena.
During the past few years, the multitude of large publishing houses shrunk, as has the subsidiary banners these houses published under. Recently, the mystery world was hit by announcements that Berkley Prime and Cengage, the biggest textbook publisher, will be discontinuing mystery series/lines. For writers and readers in the cozy and traditional mystery world, these announcements translate to at least one hundred books a year that will probably never be published. Some authors may find homes for their works or derivatives of their series with smaller houses or may choose to self-publish, but unless they already have established followings, most will find their works reaching far less readers than they would have “the way things were.”
I’m not sure which candidate will become president, but I am certain this streamlining of the publishing world will mean corporate profits rising to the detriment of readers and writers. The “disruptive forces” at work here will result in readers having less books to choose from while writers, having less alternatives, will discover their earning and negotiation abilities compromised at the same time they are having to work harder to find homes for their works.
Do you think we could add the state of the publishing world to the next debate?