A Ray of Hope

I haven’t read A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles yet, but I plan to buy a copy and read it.   I listened to Michael Silverblatt’s Bookworm interview with  the director/screenwriter/author yesterday, and found it really exciting.  The subject matter (the Spanish-American war), Sayle’s comments about historical research, and the two men’s comments about the publishing industry added up to a really heartening half hour.

I admit it, I’ve been resistant to McSweeney’s–which published this book– because I found Dave Egger’s first book A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius  a pretty annoying read.  But they’re publishing interesting work and playing with formats.   And I loved Zeitoun.  I’m going to keep my eye on what they’re up to.

Silverblatt comments at the end of the interview that the big publishing houses have themselves to blame for failing to adjust to the the times.   I really have to believe that people are always going to need stories and the writers of them.  Maybe the current upheaval in the publishing industry will lead to a rise in independent publishers and small bookstores that will be able to use the Internet to network and get the word out to readers.  Or maybe it will look like something we haven’t imagined yet.

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2 thoughts on “A Ray of Hope

  1. Gala says:

    Like you, I’m very interested in watching the transformation of the publishing world. I, too, believe people will always want stories (“content,” as the various related industries call it). Personally, I want books to hold in my hand, and I think those will always exist, but there will obviously also be other formats. I think there’s a parallel between the book publishing industry and the music industry. Like Silverblatt mentioned in relation to publishing, the music industry failed to respond appropriately to technological changes, too, and paid the price. However, I’ve seen a strong, artist-led movement toward independent releases, a revival of high-quality vinyl, a renewed pride in liner notes, etc. I think the parallel will be there with publishing, too – at least, I hope it will! xoxo

  2. Sundry says:

    I recently saw Jack White on The Colbert Report, and his label sounds like what you’re talking about. I haven’t followed the music transition, but I see what you’re saying! It puts me in mind, too, of the transition that has to go on with our energy sources, in that the big companies that have been making money on the way things have been done want to keep making money without changing and their hold on the various entertainment and energy manufacturing and distribution networks that exist.

    Maybe getting more art back into the hands of smaller houses rather than allowing a handful of book and music publishers to choose what’s available will turn out to be a good thing. Marketing and distribution have been the main reasons to go with the big guys. But so much of it seems semi-corrupt. An author recently told me that publishers pay big money to have their books turned face out on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. (Hmm…and the big candy companies pay supermarkets to get their bars placed on those check-out line racks–thanks to Steve Almond’s _Candyfreak_ for that info.) How is that not payola?!

    I wonder if sites like Good Reads or those of independent booksellers will see a rise in influence. Change is often painful,but maybe this is a time we’ll be glad we witnessed. Would like to figure out how to be a part of it!

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