May 27, 2010

In the News - Elitist New Yorkers Attack Country Bumpkin

The biggest new story in publishing this week seems to be the oldest as well - didn't you hear? Publishing is dead! At least that's what Garrison Keillor, NPR mainstay and county-fair-styled variety show creator, said in a recent New York Times op-ed (I picture him slowly shaking his jowls in disappointment). His biggest concern is with self-publishing, which will lead us to a future of:
18 million authors in America, each with an average of 14 readers, eight of whom are blood relatives. Average annual earnings: $1.75.
He's hardly the first person to come out with these statements, but for some reason he's getting a hell of a lot of flak for it. I guess a lot of people are taking advantage of his anecdotal and unsubtle analysis to take a few jabs at the quaint, moldy storyteller. Responders include Jon Stewart who, speaking at a Book Expo breakfast panel he was hosting, said:
Garrison Keillor wrote in a Times op-ed yesterday that the publishing industry is dead... Funny, I thought [Keillor] was dead … No one understands cutting-edge media like a man who does written radio plays about a fictitious town.
Flavorwire went all out, approaching a dozen industry professional to get their response to Keillor's dire predictions, which included one anonymous publishing insider who quipped:
I think someone in publishing should do an op-ed on the death of radio. I won’t talk about Lutherans in Minnesota if Garrison won’t talk about publishing.
Incidentally, when I lived in NYC and was somehow aware of Garrison Keillor's existence, I never realized that he also wrote books. It was only when I came to Oxford that I saw a lot of his books in used book stores, and since then have also come across them in English book stores here in Israel (didn't buy any, though). I wonder if he's more popular as a writer outside the states (on second thought, if people really liked his books they wouldn't be donating them to Oxfam, would they?) (on third thought, perhaps all those copies were dumped there by American tourists).

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