James Wood has jumped ship from The New Republic to The New Yorker. Said Leon Wieseltier: “The New Republic plays many significant roles in American culture, and one of them is to find and to develop writers with whom The New Yorker can eventually staff itself.” This may be a wild stab in the dark, but I don’t think Wieseltier plans on tap dancing anytime soon over this.
So if the publishing industry is dying, why is Jane Friedman so convinced that it is “the healthiest I have seen it in a very long time?” HarperCollins has seen its annual revenue shift from $737 million to $1.3 billion. But how much of this comes from gutsy instincts? And how much of this comes from business consolidation? We’re not getting anything close to the whole story here. (via Written Nerd)
Richard Nash announces that there will be a brand new Donald Barthelme collection! Flying to America, containing 45 pieces of previously uncollected pieces, is coming. In the meantime, if you need a Barthelme primer or pick-me-up, Jessamyn West’s page is a good start.
Michael Blowhard has some significant beefs with tables of contents in magazines. But if you want to talk about labyrinths contained within magazines, let’s talk about all those goddam ads you have to flip through to get to the TOC page. I’ve often found myself flipping through about forty to fifty pages of ads just to find the TOC. To add insult to injury, the TOC is often staggered across multiple pages without so much as a helpful notation as to where to find the second page. Which means something like this: TOC Page One, 12 pages of ads, TOC Page Two. And this is the seminal idea that Michael hasn’t considered. Magazines are now designed to be completely unnavigable for the reader. It is now almost impossible for a reader to not get lost within several pages of advertising. Thus, the marketing team can pride themselves on a design in which advertising comes first and content comes second. But the magazine design and navigation fails as a result. The advertisers are favored more than the readers, because they bring in more revenue for the magazine. (Or did you honestly think that all those cheap magazine subscriptions were pulling in most of the income?) In fact, the situation is so tilted in favor of the advertisers that it’s quite possible that magazines may very well be doing the work of advertising agencies. Which makes me wonder why we don’t just call the chief offenders “adazines” — a soporific drug compelling people to buy stuff they don’t need disguised as a journalistic endeavor.
One of Levi’s major causes — hell, he brings the subject up every time I see him — has been the pricing disparity between hardcover and paperback. He’s now enlisting readers and bloggers to begin the discussion to end all discussions on this subject. So go over to Litkicks and feed him all sorts of info on the subject.