That the map is not the territory seems rather obvious. Unfortunately, when discussing publishing and the arts we don't even have a map — we're usually stuck with a malfunctioning GPS system on a stupidphone with an almost-dead battery.
MikeyDavid really doesn't like anything. Then, in the "music business," there really isn't a whole lot to like... especially the by-now-constant claims of "death" in well-funded, profitable publications and the inevitable snide counterpoint from a different niche with its arrogant subtext of inherent cultural superiority. The roles of the particular niches are often reversed...
- Yet another lament about the death of the author due to changing markets and technology provides a sort of strange counterweight to
two ships passing in the darka "conversation" on publishing between a prominent "independent author" and a midmajor commercial publisher, followed by yet more self-serving drivel in an agency-captured publication by an agent. It seems that utter cluelessness is now mandatory in discussing publishing (instead of merely being the default), because each of these proponents has not only chosen an extreme position — each proclaims that her/his position is the only acceptable one, and that any hint of compromise or any hint that position is not universally correct is communism.
Ultimately, the problem is one of risk: What is it; how is it measured; who should (not necessarily "does") bear it; and what is an acceptable return on it. In a sense, this is merely a reporting issue — there's more reporting at the publisher level than at the author level, and it looks more credible when it is done (corporate books versus an author's apparently off-the-cuff estimates... which are usually more accurate than the corporate accounting, but that's for another time). At a theoretical level, this is a product of the subtle distortions of Austrian economics, which attempted (unsuccessfully) to devalue labor for ideological reasons by denying that the product of labor in one economic subsystem could ever be properly understood as capital input to a later-in-time economic subsystem. That is, "steel" is not a capital input to the automotive industry, because "steel" is the product of applying labor to iron ore; similarly, "a novel" is not a capital input to the publishing industry, because "a novel" is the product of applying labor to... whatever. Austrian economics theory also denies that "risk" accrues to anything except capital (in its pretense that it is merely stating fundamental laws), even going so far down certain ideological paths as to redefine what managers create (but not what, say, in-house research scientists create) as "intellectual capital" while simultaneously denying that "intellectual property" is capital at all. And that just feeds back into the problem of risk, and ends up making any conversation about publishing (and other exploitation of intellectual property for commercial and/or cultural/artistic advantage) more than just a bit ridiculous — if one grants the unstated premises and allows the personal interest of some participants to define the argument.
- All of which still makes more sense than literary theory as a self-sustaining field of study — dammit, there's a reason that Swift's "The Battle of the Books" resonates so much with scientists who've taken a look at (let alone been immersed in) literary studies beyond junior-level undergrad. In turn, that makes more sense than Schumpeterian "creative destruction" analysis of literary movements in the absence of formal theory — or, for that matter, any understanding whatsoever of existing context or what is at stake to the people involved.
- At least publishing isn't usually focused on causing physical harm to its participants (follow the links in the article, too). No, the harm is financial and moral... the physical harm to authors is just a side effect, not a focus.
- Having been an Air Force officer during the Cold War, I'm entirely unsurprised that General Ripper was not completely fictional. I knew too many officers who would have chosen the Ripper path over the Mandrake path... or worse yet really believed that there was no choice. What's scary is that the politicians were (and are) worse.