Wednesday, June 20, 2007

an editor's job

In this week's Publishers Weekly, Sara Nelson, in the guise of an article about turnover at Random House, brought forth indeliably the inevitable truth we've been trying to protect ourselves from (by not thinking about, mostly): editors increasingly don't matter.

The emphasis of publishing, she points out, must necessarily move from the acquisitions and editing side to the distribution and marketing side. Shucks. And of course she's right.

So--aside from the fact that my career of choice is going to become increasingly competitive, just as I'm trying to chip away a little nook for myself--what does this mean for readers? And writers?

When quality of content and literary value become increasingly insignificant and the only way to get a book placement on a bookstore shelf (never mind into a customer's hand!!) is marketing... what does this mean for the selection of books that is going to be available to readers in the future? When chains buying up the largest quantities of titles determine how many copies a publisher can print of a book, and thereby whether or not a publisher can even afford to publish a book, will all literature veer toward the mainstream in order to stay afloat? Is the dream of the next Fitzgerald/Salinger/Morrison escaping even further from the clutches of reality?

Ok, ok, a bit Doomsday of me... But seriously. What can I say, besides Oh Fuck?

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