Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A Spade's a Spade

I've had a bone to pick with HarperStudio since their inception. Or maybe it's their presentation in the media, which has been rather naively portrayed as being something more original and grand than it truly is.

It all began for me -- my itch, shall we call it? -- after reading an article in the April 3, 2008 edition of the Business section of the New York Times by Mokoto Rich. The article was dubbed "Book Unit to Skip Advances and Share Profits." For anyone aware of independent publishing on even a marginal scale, this headline alone is worthy of The Onion.

It felt as though Rich re-typed the press release, which was annoying. At no point did she challenge her subjects when they were referring to their project as "experimental" or "revolutionary."

Other venues, such as New York Magazine, in an article entitled "The End," seemed to pick up the thread and accept this misperception of HarperStudio as unique and/or newsworthy. Shelf Awareness, the industry e-newsletter, devoted an entire issue to HarperStudio (I certainly hope they billed them).

I don't mean to imply that I believe this practice began with independent publishing. (I seem to recall a story of Tom Hanks in his prime accepting a lesser fee in exchange for profit-sharing.)

But I do think that if there is room for news in this charade -- especially for the Business section of the Times! -- it would be that a corporate publisher is mimicking the business practices of their smaller counterparts.
There, I've said it.

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