Norman Spinrad on the publishing death spiral

Norman Spinrad survives cancer at 70 and comes out pulling no punches about the state of the publishing industry, writing, and their future. Parts One and Three are *required reading* for any writers reading this. Part Two is interesting and salutary, but not essential.

7 Responses to “Norman Spinrad on the publishing death spiral”

  1.   Pearce
    August 13th, 2010 | 8:30 am

    So d’you think that what Spinrad talks about here carries over to publishing outside of the US? Especially in the first part, but also some of the things he says in the third part. He actually points out France as being very different from the US more than once; it seems to me that the UK and Australia are both closer to France than to the US in this regard, and that NZ has a completely different model again.

    If writers completely disregard the US as an audience, how would that affect things?

    I guess I’m just uncomfortable with the idea that what’s happening with publishing in the US is actually relevant to all writers. There are over a hundred English-speaking countries that are not the US, after all. Have we become too used to the idea of the US as driving English-speaking culture?

    billy Reply:

    The US is the biggest market for English language writing, and the home of most of the biggest, most powerful publishing houses, and giant bookstore chains. In that sense, yeah, it drives trends, and matters a lot.

    To disregard the US, you would need a different distribution model focused on exploiting the other English speaking markets more fully, and be eminently translatable. Back here I linked to Stross’ series about publishing (also a must read, IMO), talking about how much money comes from translation, and actually being really upfront about how survival as a midlist author works.

  2.   Pearce
    August 13th, 2010 | 1:34 pm

    Are you sure re: the US being the biggest market? I’ve read that the UK overtook them several years ago. Unfortunately the article I read it in no longer seems to be online, but it claimed that book sales in the UK have been rising at a more rapid rate than books sales in the US have been falling.

  3.   billy
    August 13th, 2010 | 2:00 pm

    *shrug* AFAIK. No specific reference comes to mind…

    Also, I have the impression that success in the US is what drives foreign translation, which would make sense if it is the biggest market. That Stross stuff covers this I think…

  4.   Vince
    August 14th, 2010 | 12:06 am

    Oohh… I like Norman Spinrad, only writer I ever wrote fan mail (and he replied, too) Glad to hear he’s beaten cancer.

  5.   bruce
    August 15th, 2010 | 9:18 pm

    Ah Norman Spinrad, thanks for the links. I just reencountered heaps of NS novels as I go through my book collection with an idea of thinning it. I decided to keep most of them, with the notable exception of Iron Dream, which was remarkable only in its now dated shock value. As far as the death spiral goes, true, but he’s not the first to break the story. I read another author talking about it years ago. But that’s the NS thing– sensationalism self promotion and pissing people off 🙂

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