Crap days in publishing

Mon 8 Jan 2007 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Ours are just overloaded, in other places it’s truly crap.

After seven years, Clamor Magazine is folding. Clamor were good people providing viewpoints and voices that aren’t often heard. Darn.

The Independent Press Association has (not unexpectedly) gone toes up. Punk Planet and their ilk are the sufferers here. Magazine distribution is, well, pick your favorite metaphor for pain and suffering, add a pinch of humilation, and that feeling you get when there’s a long, long queue at the post office and the only person working is medically dead, and it’s something like that. The IPA hoped to help but failed. Magazine distribution choices are disappearing faster than hope for clean elections.

Then the elephant in the room: AMS and their Chapter 11 bankruptcy. AMS have been under SEC investigation since at least 2002. They have been delisted from the stock market for not complying with quarterly reporting rules and a few ex-top execs who messed with ad revenue figures are trying out alternative modes of living. ie prison. AMS are huge: they supply CostCo with those pallets of books that lie around the front of the warehouses (whoopee, that’s some fun shoppin’). AMS are also, as of a couple of years ago, the parent company of Publishers Group West, exclusive distributors for Soft Skull, McSweeney’s Books, Tin House, and ~150 others. Fingers crossed that if PGW are sold off quick the publishers see their money and not just pennies on the dollar.


No Responses to “Crap days in publishing”

  1. Fred on January 8th, 2007 7:23 pm

    I sometimes worry that I’ve picked a really terrible time to start on something even like zine publishing.

  2. Patrick Nielsen Hayden on January 9th, 2007 5:59 am

    I don’t buy my books at Costco, either, but please don’t sneer at the idea of price clubs as booksellers. Or, rather, go ahead and sneer, but keep this in mind:

    50% of the families in this country never set foot in a bookstore. The parents in those families may be lost to book-reading. But the kids aren’t. Having a selection of books available in the kinds of places where those families _do_ go is a really important enabler of social mobility.

    With the ongoing radical consolidation of mass-market paperback distribution, so that the grocery store racks that used to offer 144 different titles now offer maybe two or three dozen, book publishing is reverting to its pre-WW2 condition of being primarily aimed at the carriage trade. That carriage trade is now far bigger than it was in 1940. But it still reaches only half the country at best. Those piles of hardcovers and trade paperbacks at Costco are one of the few things ameliorating this.

  3. lcrw on January 9th, 2007 2:44 pm

    Fred — it’s always a good day to start a zine. How much money can you lose on it anyway?

    Patrick, I’m not dissing CostCo (too much). Lots of people seem to like them for their health insurance practices and so on.
    Good point about the availability of books—although (hopefully) kids are surrounded by books in school and have library access. I do love seeing books in non-bookshop shops, though. Museums, cafes, gyms, etc.

  4. Fred on January 9th, 2007 2:49 pm

    Depends, I guess, on how much money I have to start out with and how attached I am to it. Then again, it’s zine publishing, so it’s not as if there was ever a good day to come in starting *making* money off of it. I’m not really worried or anything.

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