“One important component of that admass approach was fighting the impression that books contained literature…
Mahler even comes out with a more reasonable explanation (than pure greed) for Patterson’s use of co-authors – who Patterson does credit, after all. “To maintain his frenetic pace of production, Patterson now uses co-authors for nearly all of his books,” Mahler explains. “This kind of collaboration is second nature to Patterson from his advertising days, and it’s certainly common in other creative industries, including television.” This also helps Patterson position himself competitively against other blockbuster authors. The point is that Patterson Inc. has created FMCG-level demand whereby a certain acreage of shelf space needs to be filled each season, and if Patterson himself can’t churn out enough words to fill that space, others are going to have to chip in to stock the supermarket shelves. Patterson Inc.’s productivity becomes hostage to its own success.
Mahler outlines the book world that the gospel according to Patterson Inc. has left us with. “Under pressure from both their parent companies and booksellers, publishers became less and less willing to gamble on undiscovered talent and more inclined to hoard their resources for their most bankable authors. The effect was self-fulfilling. The few books that publishers invested heavily in sold; most of the rest didn’t. And the blockbuster became even bigger.”
Is it fair to blame these developments all on one guy, however influential? Yes, all these potential opportunities were lying there in American bookselling and retailing already, just waiting to be exploited. But I don’t believe such changes are inevitable, and I certainly don’t believe how they develop is predetermined. America’s taste would probably have remained how it is with or without Patterson, because you can fool some of the people all of the time. But his influence has been responsible for spoiling the earth for other writers and writing, and turning traditional American publishing into something more like a monocrop ecology, where only one species dominates and the rest clings to survival along its fringes.”
Read the rest on TeleRead.
[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]