After bribing a number of underpaid assistants with Duane Reade gift certificates (there was a stack here; don’t ask how we acquired it) and attempting to whisper sweet somethings into New York Magazine editorial interns who have been wrongly pegged as know-nothings, Reluctant Habits has obtained the early notes for Boris Kachka’s “Oh noes! The publishing industry is dead!” article. We don’t know what to make of Mr. Kachka referring to himself in the first person in these early notes, assuming the shaky provenance can be believed (and indeed we have grave doubts). But we presume that it’s the kind of casual hubris one employs when one is too embarrassed to refer to one’s self in the overused first person plural.
1. Okay, Boris, authenticity! Authenticity! Authenticity! Get the architectural details right! Employ modifiers like “drab” and “mysterious.” Use words like “demise” and “gallows.” Use Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy for reference. We need the audience to cry uncontrollably. We need to create the impression that everyone who works in the publishing industry is crying uncontrollably. And, Boris, as you sit at the keyboard to write this, perhaps you will cry uncontrollably. Never let facts get in the way of the emotions!
2. You can never use enough exclamation points! Remember, we’re pulling back the curtain. The publishing industry is dead and has no hope! Watch the end of Planet of the Apes every 200 words to get the appropriate apocalyptic feel here. You publishing maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!
3. Well, if Bob Miller is setting this thing up, then he IS the story! Never mind that the imprint is unproven. If you can’t point to specific examples with HarperStudio, then go with Jane Friedman! After all, she’s the one who greenlighted this, yes? Even if you can’t figure out the precise details of her sacking, suggest authority by providing details about her post-retirement party.
4. Insert random quotes every 500 words. The quotes don’t have to match up with the text that follows. But this should create an authentic enough feel.
5. Still struggling for title for piece. Watch Burt Reynolds movies.
6. Find a way to work in Lenin reference.
7. There’s an alternative here to the standard conglomerates take over everything angle, isn’t there? Surely, it can’t be that simple. Think, Boris, think! Uh, dot com days?
8. Dale Peck angle? We need someone making low six figures here. I mean, that’s the New York readership! Surely, nobody who pays less than $2,500 a month in rent reads this magazine. Demographic will sympathize!
9. Work in “long tail” reference. Shit on Chris Anderson if you can. Still vaguely fashionable, I think, to take a dump on Chris Anderson.
10. Suggest that Markus Dohle doesn’t know what he’s doing, but focus on appearance if you can’t locate the facts. Maybe describe Sonny Metha as “dapper.”
11. Constant comparisons to the old boozing days of publishing. Things used to be better. That never fails, eh?
12. Okay, we’ll never know what happened between Richard Ford and Fisketjon. But go for the gossip angle if necessary.
13. Get sources to say that nothing matters. Need at least three quotes. Preferably anonymous.
14. Wait, how else is the publishing industry dying? Causation does not imply correlation? Fuck that. BEA attendance was down! Work that in.
15. Work in Kindle.
16. Need list of “Books Gone Bust.” Shit, only four examples come to mind. Well, that’s enough, surely! Nobody’s going to pay attention to the titles that actually sell, are they? They’re going to believe our “publishing is dead” angle because I’m Boris Fucking Kachka!
17. When in doubt of your shaky knowledge about the publishing industry, Boris, have a good wank. Or three.