Way back at the end of the last century, I happened to pass a book display at a quaint, old-timey "Booke Store" offering to sell me All!Four!Count!'Em!Four! "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" books as a set.
Since I was not about to shell out one pfennig for the novelization of one of the shittiest movies of all times --
-- I had no idea why anyone would even consider asking the buying public to invest in a four-pack of such awfulness.
Were there some interesting difference between them? Alternate endings? Some, subtle printing errata that would make such a thing valuable to a collector?
Nope. Just the same, shitty story with four, different covers. Mass-produced fetish signifiers designed by marketers to convince already-gullible fanboys to exchange a chunk of actual money for the privilege of displaying a matching, 4-volume set of booklike objects on his shelf in order to further validate and underscore his status as a member in good standing of the club.
Might as well have been blank pages or a slab of plastic for all the value they were supposed to hold as books.
Of course, Star Wars games and action-figures and sleeping bags and dildos will never die, but books are a different matter: no matter how rabid the fan base, eventually the market for identical, useless, pricey, book-shaped crap that performs no other function besides taking up space on an already-crowded shelf will start to collapse.
Bear that parable in mind as you read this:
Killing Conservative Books: The Shocking End Of A Publishing Gold RushA decade ago, mainstream publishers became convinced they could make millions by churning out books for the right — and now the bubble may be bursting. From Allan Bloom to Ann Coulter.The conservative book business has seen better days. Ten years ago, the genre was a major source of intellectual energy on the right, and the site of a publishing boom, with conservative imprints popping up at industry giants like Random House and Penguin. But after a decade of disruption, uneven sales, and fierce competition, many leading figures in the conservative literati fear the market has devolved into an echo of cable news, where an overcrowded field of preachers feverishly contends for the attention of the same choir.“I think the problems in the conservative publishing arena are more acute than in the rest of the industry,” said Keith Urbahn, former chief of staff to Donald Rumsfeld, who now runs a communications firm in Washington and works as a literary agent for conservative authors.The challenges afflicting the market are varied, but in interviews with BuzzFeed, several editors, agents, and executives faulted the same trend they were celebrating in 2003, when mainstream publishers began elevating conservative editors, like Adam Bellow and Adrian Zackheim, and luring high-profile Republican figures like consultant Mary Matalin into the book business. At the time, many on the right welcomed this development as the sort of victory that had eluded them in Hollywood, academia, and the mainstream press — a mass influx of conservatives that would wrest the industry from the hands of liberal elites, and work to reverse the tide of the culture wars.Instead, what followed was the genrefication of conservative literature. Over the next 10 years, corporate publishers launched a half-dozen imprints devoted entirely to producing, promoting, and selling books by right-leaning authors — a model that consigned their work to a niche, same as science fiction or nutritional self-help guides. Many of the same conservatives who cheered this strategy at the start now complain that it has isolated their movement’s writers from the mainstream marketplace of ideas, wreaked havoc on the economics of the industry, and diminished the overall quality of the work.Editors at these imprints face unprecedented pressure to land cable news and radio provocateurs like Ann Coulter, rather than promote the combative intellectuals, like Allan Bloom and Charles Murray, on whom the business was first built. “You are left to rely completely on cable and radio [for promotion] and as a consequence of that, you have to provide those venues the type of material they want,” said Bellow, who runs Harper Collins’ conservative imprint, Broadside. “It’s become a kind of blood sport and the most ruthless gladiator comes out on top.”...
The Conservative book publishing industry has always been one of the more painfully obvious Wingnut Welfare slop troughs. The quality of the writing generally ranges from dull, Soviet-style rote recitations of party-line propaganda, to just embarrassing, to poo-scrawlings on the madhouse wall, and on the rare occasions when the ideas manage to rise even to the level of cut-and-paste Republican bumper stickers from 1988 they are invariably touted as the state-of-the-art in cutting-edge Conservative thinking.
For the "author", cranking out a Conservative book means a payday, a free ride on the Mouse Circus merry-go-round and a means to up your speaking fees.
For the "reader", buying such persiflage and stacking it on your shelf serves the same purpose as Rick Perry's suddenly-conspicuous glasses: a prop for stupid people to feel smart Because Books!