On Publishing and Platforms in the Age of Trump

Basically, this whole post by Peter Grant at Mad Genius Club:

First, the publishing world, like the rest of the ruling class, just can’t even with the last election, and by golly, they’re going to react to it. And after noting how they think “Trump voters have created space in the political conversation for heretical ways of discussing class, gender and race” (by which they of course mean not the ways Trump voters want to discuss those things, but the way voices they like want to discuss them, because that’s what “heretical” means or something), Peter suggests:

If you ask me, I don’t think President Trump has so much “shaken up the book industry” as exposed the fact that it appears to have fundamentally departed from the essential foundation of commercial business – namely, to make a profit. If businesses don’t make a profit, they fail. Period. If we, as authors, write to make a living (as I do), and we don’t make a profit, we fail. Where do you see that realization in the views cited in that article? I don’t . . . and I suspect that’s the reality behind the publishing and book-selling industry’s (and many authors’) woes. Both appear to have lost sight of the reality that, first, last and always, publishing is a business. That’s why so many parts of it are failing.

Art is commerce.

Art Is Commerce.

ART IS COMMERCE.

Second, Affiliate Marketing is Going to Run Into Regulatory Problems. I don’t care, because I don’t have enough blog traffic to even get on Amazon Affiliates anymore. This is of a piece with Google and Facebook getting Big Enough to provoke grumbling about it being Standard Oiled. We love success stories in America. We also love watching them fall.

Third, Big Tech is taking a political side. As if I needed another reason to contemplate deleting my Facebook. Honestly, the only reason I’m ever on there is to post picture of my children and catch up with the occasional college pal.

If our perspective as authors, and/or the subject matter of our books, and/or how we cover other opinions, clashes with the point of view espoused by social media outlets or vendors, we may find ourselves censored, and/or our books “muted” in terms of public visibility. To name just a few examples:

  • What would happen if our blog platform (e.g. Blogger, WordPress, even many you may never have heard about) decided to “de-platform” (i.e. shut down) bloggers with whose views it/they disagreed?
  • What if book review sites such as Goodreads, Shelfari, etc. decided to ignore our books, or remove reviews of them posted by readers?
  • What would happen to our sales if a dominant vendor like Amazon.com decided to omit our books from the “Customers who bought this item also bought” lists that are included on the page of every article for sale on its Web site?

Those are some of our most important avenues to reach potential readers. They may become restricted, even closed to us, if their owners and operators decide to promote only (or mostly) products – including books – that meet their definition of “politically correct”.

The question isn’t “Will this happen?” If they’re that shaken up by The Trumpening, they’re going to pull out all the stops to keep us peasants in line. The question is, “What do we do about it?”

Anyway, Read the Whole Thing.


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