Jonathan Karp, who was on Talk of the Nation yesterday (we podcast a day behind) had a piece in the Washington Post where, as a publisher discussed the state of the industry. His conclusion: Too many of what he deems ‘disposable’ books.
Visit your neighborhood superstore, and you will be overwhelmed with ephemera: self-aggrandizing memoirs by recovering addicts; poignant portraits of heroic pets; hyperbolic ideological tracts by insufferable cable TV pundits; guides to staying wrinkle- and toxin-free; odes to Warren Buffett and Jesus Christ; manifestos for fixing America in 12 easy steps; manly accounts of the best athlete/season/team ever; and glittery novels about British royalty, love-starved shoppers, mournful cops and ingenious serial killers. (There are more novels about serial killers than there are actual serial killers.)
…political provocateurs such as Jonah Goldberg, whose pointless thought exercise “Liberal Fascism” is just the latest example of what the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once termed “boob bait for the bubbas.” Authors such as Goldberg serve up red meat for their constituencies while cable broadcasters fill airtime with their extreme, quasi-entertaining notions — in this case, the “parallels” between Nazi policies and those of such Democratic leaders as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Books of this ilk have always existed. But in the past, they’ve been balanced by substantive books, crafted by monomaniacal authors who devoted years to the work.
The good news is he didn’t mention that Goldberg is employed at the LA Times. We got to save a little face there.