Oh, try it by all means. Angels And Demons is one of the few books that I literally flung across the room.....not for the very bad writing but for the historical inaccuracies that would be glaringly obvious to a good high school student. The book demonstrated a contempt for it's audience.
I don't necessarily like popular lit, and I don't read HB stuff because some of it sells well. I couldn't care less what the public wants. I read it because the best ones write on a level that rivals or eclipses a lot of so-called "serious" writers. And even the pulpiest guys sometimes try to give you your money's worth (like Jeffrey Deaver, or whatever his name is). I think you will find, if you try the Dan Brown stuff, that he really doesn't do that. It's not just a matter of me being snobby.
Obviously, you are right that publishing is a business, or it was, but the current business model doesn't require any loyalty from me. What happened to the backlist? At least e-publishing will bring that back. I won't have to hunt for a David Goodis or a Paul Cain.....they will just be there. I won't have to wait for High Adventure to bring out the collected works of Robert Leslie Bellem. Where is the down side?
I understand the writers on the list being apprehensive......but I will still buy and read you guys, I swear. I think you will be surprised and pleased in the long run. None of this is going to make stories obsolete.
----- Original Message -----
From: Mark Sullivan
Sent: Friday, December 18, 2009 20:42
Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: possibly the biggest publishing story of the year
All of this dumping on Dan Brown has almost got me curious enough to check him out. Almost.
As for how much his books have sold being evidence of publishers being "unreliable gatekeepers," well, I see it as evidence of the opposite. In this case, at least, they clearly gave the public exactly what it wanted.
Also, they may have started the ball rolling on his popularity, but they certainly aren't responsible for how hugely it snowballed. The audience did that. Not having read any of his books, I can't even speculate on what it was, but clearly something resonated with readers in a big way for sales to take off in the way they did. And it wasn't just some book to put out on a coffee table to attest to the owner's taste. People actually read it. I remember a time when I would overhear detailed discussions of it everywhere.
So while it's nice to blame publishers for not publishing more books that I would like (though I never seem to have too much trouble finding something new worth reading), can they really be blamed for trying to put out books that will please the largest number of readers? It is a business, after all. And while no backing from a publisher may doom a book, there's no guarantee that backing will ensure a book's popularity. If publishers could make any book as huge as DaVinci Code, they would have a much higher average of blockbusters to low or no sellers. And we'd see an even more reduced catalog.
So is the real complaint with publishers who publish the stuff we don't like or the consumers who make that stuff so profitable to publish in the first place?
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