James Patterson Calls for Government Bailout of Publishing Industry
James Patterson feels very strongly about books, bookstores and the publishing industry. Perhaps it’s no surprise coming from the bestselling novelist behind the Alex Cross series, which started all the way back with Along Came a Spider (there are now 20). But the strength of his feelings became more obvious over the weekend when he placed an ad in the New York Times Book Review and one in Publishers Weekly advocating some kind of government intervention “in order to save an industry besieged by bookstore closings and consolidation of the few remaining major publishing houses”.
When asked if he was pushing for a Goldman Sachs-like bailout, he said:
I don’t think it’s a question of bailing out, necessarily. In Germany, Italy, and France, they protect bookstores and publishers. It is widely practiced in parts of Europe. I don’t think that’s outlandish. But people have mixed feelings about the government doing anything right now… There might be tax breaks, there might be limitations on the monopolies in the book business… I’m not sure what needs to happen, but right now, nothing’s happening.
It’s two days after World Book Night and he may be right that something does need to be done. The changes in the industry that are so fundamentally shocking to those of us in any way involved don’t really get a lot of column-inches out there in the real world.
The press doesn’t deal with the effects of eBooks as a story. Borders closing down is treated as a business story. Where we are in Westchester during the summer, you’d think that’d be a bookstore haven, and there’s nothing. And that’s not unusual. I don’t think we can be the country we’d like to be without literature.
I live in the UK where the recession has led to cuts in local council budgets to the point where a number of places are closing libraries to save money! The idea that we may be creating a future generation that doesn’t have ready access to books (of whatever format) is quite a frightening one, don’t you think?
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