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Hat tip to Ace

The link in the title goes to NY Times article. I have not read it, nor do I intend to, but Gabriel Malor did.

What the article boils down to is that book publishers are having a difficult time competing with the product they offer, books from dead trees, versus e-books, made from soon to be killed electrons.

The issue is price. E-books are sold at a fraction of physical copies. Customers are turning away from physical books towards e-books. More is being read at a great discount, and that can't be a bad thing.

And price is exactly not the issue, if you understand business or economics, but cost structure is. If publishers could offer their product at competitive prices, they most certainly would. And nothing -- as in nothing -- stops book publishers from offering their authors an electronic platform.

Book publishers, at least the big houses, have had such tremendous sway over the culture for decades, they could, and have picked and chosen winners and losers based on what they thought they could market for sale.

I can't evaluate a culture, since its just not my mileiu, but it seems when you have such power, you can influence a national culture based solely on your selections of winners and losers. That power has created a caste of snobs, who very rarely cast their approval upon an author in order to bring the author into the caste. When you have that power, you can also afford to set standards for approval that have little to do with actual literary merit. For example, the right political or social views to maintain your status in the caste.

Whether and how we got here and where we are in the nation's literary life is good or bad, it is hard to say, simply because I don't know, and I don't have enough of a clue to even guess.

But what I can surmise is that when you have a large number of authors who produce the kind of work that is as good or better than a selected coterie of authors who have never faced any kind of competition, what you wind up with has got to be better.

E-books have threatened the social order established by book publishers. The article says the concern is over price, but I suspect the issue is also the diminuation of economic profit enjoyed over the decades, and the unchallenged power that went with it. An author can now bypass the "transom", as publishers call it, go straight to e-books, and if the product is good enough and word gets out, readers as well as the author will benefit mightily from the arrangement.

Where does my manuscript fit in with all of this? I guess we'll know in a few months, but even if it flops -- and it could -- the work will be published and available to read in a mass market. That has been a goal of mine since I was in my mid 20s and wrote my first unpublished novel,

That is something that could never happen if book publishers solely ran the show.

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