Monopolies and Wholesalers

So remember last Friday, when I was too tired to post about the DOJ case against Apple or the problem with Eason’s acquiring Argosy? Well, I lied.

The truth is, it didn’t matter how tired I felt that day. I could have been in perfect health and hopped up on espresso, and it wouldn’t have made a difference. I can’t properly blog about those things on my best day because I can’t wrap my mind around the impact on the publishing industry.

My publishing gurus have addressed these issues more succinctly than I ever could: Nathan Bransford in the States and Irish Publishing News here in Ireland. Eoin Purcell was our speaker in the Publishers on Publishing series this past Friday, and he was adamant that Eason’s buying Argosy is a very bad thing for small Irish publishers.

I understand Amazon’s price-penetrating strategy with the Kindle. I understand that monopolies are bad for business. I understand how vertical integration is giving control of the universe to five major corporations. I understand that consumers think they want low prices but are actually setting themselves up to be taken advantage of in the future. I understand all these things… in theory.

Real life is another matter. Blogging my opinions on movies or interesting things I read is one thing, but commenting on the state of the industry in which I hope to find employment is something else entirely. It’s all a bit too real. I become considerably less chatty.

A few months ago, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt declared bankruptcy as part of a financial restructuring package that, in the end, was very good for the company’s overall health. I was working contract for them at the time, and do you think I blogged about that? Hell no. I was too busy living it.

It’s one thing to read about these stories happening to someone else in some other industry (I still think the stock market is a fiction created by bored old boys on the golf course). It’s quite another to be staring into the wreckage and hoping that somewhere, amid all the flotsam and jetsam, is a job just for me.

I will try to be braver about these major issues in the future. For now, here’s a picture of my dog in some bluebonnets (I’m a little homesick, too).