Monday, November 10, 2014


More coverage of Ed Park's departure from Amazon:
Bezos’s last line of defense against the ire of the literati had been Park, the lone survivor of Amazon’s initial push into publishing of the big-time, hardcover variety. Three other promising hires out of “legacy” publishing, including former Time Warner Book Group CEO Larry Kirshbaum, all preceded him out the revolving door. In the intervening five years, genre books have done well — sometimes very well — over at Amazon’s West Coast operation, while big fiction and nonfiction have floundered, partly due to the bookstore boycott. Genres sell briskly as e-books, while the literary mid-list is still largely hand-sold in physical bookstores, so the Amazon authors hurt most of all by the lit world’s hostility are those it might like the most. Out of the earshot of the hosts, one agent at the party told me that for his kind of work, “Amazon is the publisher of last resort.”
When I signed a contract with Amazon for my last novel (Ed was my editor, and he was the most amazing person to work with obviously - he really should have been credited as a full-on collaborator, the book changed so much for the better as I worked for him!), a friend in publishing asked me, "But won't it be strange not to see your book in bookstores?" I had to say that it would not be much different from my previous experience with traditional publishers! My YA books, though they were published by HarperTeen, were not ordered by B&N and other chains, and had truly abysmal sales (the first one didn't clear the limit for republication in paper, so the sequel was released as if in all appearances it was a standalone, hardly surprising that readers found that frustrating). If you are a small midlist book at a traditional publisher and don't catch the world's attention particularly, it is not as though your book really will be in stores in any systematic way.

In general, I am really moving away from novel-writing: in any line of work, you will need to spend a good bit of time publicizing your own stuff and being out on the road, and it is really bad enough having to do that for ONE writing career let alone two. Increasingly sure, and happy about it, that I am a scholar and nonfiction writer in my heart of hearts - that said, future projects will include more crossover work a-la-Geoff Dyer (it is easier for me to force convergence between roles as professor of eighteenth-century British literature and author of literary nonfiction than to shoehorn in the novel-writing thing)....

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