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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The coming death of big publishing

It's coming, and it's coming much faster than anyone is really prepared for. Item One: Castalia author Nick Cole visits Barnes & Noble:
The other day I popped in to a big Barnes & Noble anchor store inside a high traffic entertainment complex called the Spectrum down in Irvine, California. The rest of the world may be experiencing some kind of recession as a result of Obama’s disastrous economic policies as is now being admitted by all sides, but Southern California barely shows the effects. Unless you know where to look.

So, I just wanted to cruise the science fiction section, and of course see if any of my books were in stock, and look around and see if there was anything interesting to pick up.

This is just an update on an unfolding disaster I’ve talked about before regarding the science fiction section at Barnes and Noble.

It’s a disaster. Seriously.

The science fiction section consisted of  three small shelves, badly, and fully, stocked with some standard big hitters for sure-fire sales.  But there wasn’t enough evidence in those three tiny half-aisles that spoke exciting and aggressive growth in the genre. It felt stale. It felt old. It felt Soviet. It felt defeated.  Maybe that was because it was stuck on the second floor, back near the bathroom.  You know where they keep all the best selllers and the sexiest books

Hint: No they don’t.

No, this particular placement for the once-vaunted science fiction section, a staple they kept so many bookstores alive with the trade of the faithful binge-buying junkie science fiction readers cleaning them out,  is now relegated to the smelly back of the store.  It seemed like some sort of discount holdover section no bookseller wanted to be sent into to organize. There was no love. It was forsaken.
Of course it is, because modern mainstream science fiction isn't science fiction at all, but social justice fiction, as Barnes & Noble itself will confirm. Item Two: B&N blogger Joel Cunningham lists 20 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books with a Message of Social Justice:
From The Time Machine to Kirk and Uhura‘s unprecedented kiss, speculative fiction has often concerned itself with breaking barriers and exploring issues of race, inequality, and injustice. The fantastical elements of genre, from alien beings to magical ones, allow writers to confront controversial issues in metaphor, granting them a subversive power that often goes unheralded. On this, the day we celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., let us consider 20 novels that incorporate themes of social justice into stories that still deliver the goods—compelling plots, characters you’ll fall in love with, ideas that will expand your mind. Let’s imagine a day when the utopian ideals of Star Trek are more than just the stuff of science fiction. 
They'll have to imagine it, because it has zero relevance to the society of the future, which is much more likely to resemble the Reavers of Firefly than the neutered pantsuits of Star Trek. I was shocked the last time I visited my favorite Barnes & Noble, and that was more than 12 years ago. What had once been a large, healthy, well-stocked SF/F section - and one that carried both my books at the time - had somehow been shrunk into two bookshelves, one of which was entirely filled with graphic novels and television-show tie-in novels. Most of the rest of the "science fiction" novels had covers that looked like romance novels. I can't even imagine what it looks like now.

Anyhow, in light of Nick's prediction, it is interesting to observe that at least one mainstream publisher is attempting to think outside the box, as Macmillan has set up Pronoun, a pan-channel ebook distribution system that pays 70 percent on all digital sales, which compares well with Amazon's Amazon-only 68.5 percent. It's a pretty good deal, although it is probably five years too late in coming, as I strongly suspect another system, from a much more formidable player, is already in development.

And finally, since I mentioned graphic novels, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that one for Quantum Mortis is in the works.


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83 Comments:

Blogger WK January 24, 2017 8:25 AM  

Regarding that list, how can The Onion compete with these guys?

Blogger Student in Blue January 24, 2017 8:31 AM  

Coming in five years late with nothing more to show of it than a very slightly higher amount of take-home money, doesn't bode well for Macmillan's Pronoun.

People don't seem to understand that in order to compete, you can't just simply be an alternative, you have to do something better.

Anonymous Skeptical Cat January 24, 2017 8:32 AM  

That's odd, all the B&Ns I visit in the Central Florida area have at least 3-4 aisles of SF-Fantasy. Usually with at half an aisle dedicated to new releases.

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr January 24, 2017 8:40 AM  

"...the society of the future, which is much more likely to resemble the Reavers of Firefly than the neutered pantsuits of Star Trek."

Nonsense! We're going to make America great again. And make SF great again. And make the future great again. And, in the process, say NO to those Next Generation pantsuits and YES to the Original Series miniskirts. The Federation of the 23rd Century was civilized, and understood the difference between men and women.

Blogger Jack Ward January 24, 2017 8:42 AM  

Then, there's Castalia House. Fred Reed speaks disparagingly of the 'vibrancy' and, 'vibrant' has become almost a cuss word among the likes of the Ilk. But, in the old sense of vibrant Castalia House is a vibrant, new and vigorous fresh wind blowing over the land.
May it live long and prosper.

Anonymous CarpeOro January 24, 2017 8:44 AM  

The last time I was in a Barnes and Noble I think they still had two aisles for Sci-fi/Fantasy. Other than authors I already owned the works of, I think Larry Correia had the only books of interest. A major drop from the days when I'd go in and have to chose between 4-5 books (and some times buy three of them). I think I picked up Larry's and one other book. The other book, the jacket blurb and cover art made it interesting at first glance. It turned out to be a rather tiresome atheist rant (at least as far as I could get myself to read it - quit half way through as a waste of time) that asked and answered the typical teenage atheist questions. At least old school atheist authors didn't usually make their atheism the bulk of the book or at the very least brought up better arguments.

Anonymous Bz January 24, 2017 8:45 AM  

"... crimes are met with banishment to an alien world called New Half Way Tree. After her father commits an unforgivable offense, he flees with Tan-Tan to New Half Way Tree, ..."

Heh, as documented in a far-future episode of Best of Cops.

In the local SFF-oriented bookstore, there has been a relentless incursion of manga, anime, miniatures, DVDs etc, and various board games. It's maybe one quarter SFF now. Including the Supernatural Romance.

Blogger 4499 January 24, 2017 9:09 AM  

If I had to pick one magic trick as my all-time favorite, I'd say it's the one where every time I read Nick Cole's name, money vanishes from my wallet. It's spooky.

Anonymous Sub January 24, 2017 9:09 AM  

It's amazing how these hack authors can't figure out that it IS possible to write good sci-fi that features all kinds of social justice. Iain M. Banks proved this with almost every book he wrote. The key is that Banks wrote sci-fi that happened to have gay romances, gender-bending, and ant-like communism, rather than the other way around.

Something tells me that the half-savage brain will never grasp the distinction.

Anonymous Sub January 24, 2017 9:11 AM  

OT

Has anyone else had problems with posting comments while using Brave? As soon as I hit publish the comment just vanishes, but no issues with Chrome or Firefox.

Blogger Durandel Almiras January 24, 2017 9:15 AM  

Yes! Graphic novels in the Quantum Morris universe!

I really look forward to the day when Castalia branches into media and we get to see your books and Mr. Wright's, Mr. Cole's etc. turned into films or shows, all written, produced and played by Alt-Tech/Right types and put Hollyweird out of business.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan January 24, 2017 9:17 AM  

So your saying all those recent Hugo winning authors are not saving Scifi?

Anonymous JAU January 24, 2017 9:20 AM  

Will it be a new QM story or a graphic novelization of an existing one?

Blogger bob kek mando ( Death To The Boor-geois, Keks To The Lol-etariat ) January 24, 2017 9:22 AM  

From The Time Machine to Kirk and Uhura‘s unprecedented kiss


i'm so confused.

are, or are not, Hispanics and Caribbeans and central / South Americans a separate race)(s)?

it seems to me that somebody has some serious 'splainin to do to Desi Arnaz, as a Cuban born Cuban with a significant accent.

Anonymous lord kelvin January 24, 2017 9:24 AM  

@3 -- yes .. I often stop a different B&N and there is at least 2-3 aisles of scifi books. But .. I haven't bought a book at B&N or any other retail stores in years unless its in the bargain bin --- I dont like to buy things that Nick Cole or anyone else might have handled. If I want a hard copy, I only buy from amazon, and normally, I prefer the ebook on my tablet.. in fact 99% of what I buy is either from Amazon or Rockauto... if I cant get what I want from one of those two places .. I don't need it.

Blogger Scott Birch January 24, 2017 9:25 AM  

@9 Sub,

In the Culture Universe, the Culture decide not to contact Earth because they don't think we're going to make it ..

Regarding the Star Trek mention in Vox's post, I feel a twinge of old sentiment calling me to defend the franchise I loved for many years. Star Trek 's history is replete with lots of war in human history before first contact, and I think it's realistic to assume that humans would pay less attention to black and white once faced with green, blue, red, purple, etc. Over centuries, many racial differences do get settled - we don't see tribal warfare between blond, brun and redhead populations any more after all. Star Trek's error is assuming that differences would resolve that quickly. If it was set in the 34th century instead of the 24th, it would be more amenable to red-pill filtering, in my very humble opinion [dodges thrown pens].

Blogger Nate January 24, 2017 9:25 AM  

if you pulled all the fantasy works out and left only the sci fi... you'd have about 40 books for sale... almost all written before 1979.

Blogger Scott Birch January 24, 2017 9:27 AM  

My nieces and nephews are born into a time of reavers. Feels bad, man.

Blogger mushroom January 24, 2017 9:31 AM  

I look forward to getting one of those graphic novels.

Blogger Durandel Almiras January 24, 2017 9:34 AM  

Who is the "formidable player" Vox hinted at? Baen?

Blogger Goldeneye January 24, 2017 9:35 AM  

Interestingly enough, the only growth category according to Bookscan is comics. Everything else is stagnant or declining

Blogger Happy Housewife January 24, 2017 9:37 AM  

The B&N in my city still has about five shelves dedicated to SFF but they're all filled with the typical SJW junk and old classics. At this point, I'm more likely to buy another copy of LOTR, as my paperbacks are getting quite worn, than something published within the last five or six years.

Anonymous fop January 24, 2017 9:42 AM  

The future ain't gonna look like Firefly or Star Trek.

It's going to look like Idiocracy.

Anonymous Alsos January 24, 2017 9:44 AM  

The three B&Ns I visit in my small-ish midwestern city have the same large section that I've always seen in their stores. At least 3 complete ~15-foot aisles, double-sided and fully-stocked.

That said, I visit B&N maybe every six weeks, vs. the Sunday morning ritual it was 10-12 years ago. What is stocked on the shelves is >60% fantasy, and the SF is mostly cheesy-looking derivative works or obvious SJW- or pink-SF.

From the cover blurbs much of the SF appears focused less on science or big ideas (even lefty ideas) and more on feelz and luvz and the wish-fulfillment fantasies of women/gammas. Together with the romance-novel covers noted above, it looks less like "speculative fiction" than Harlequin Romances with wizards or ray guns. Or soap opera instead of space opera.

And the stores are uniformly dismal, trending towards (but not yet as bad as) department stores in downtown Detroit circa 1985. They redecorated maybe 8-10 years back by replacing some of the wall art on the space above the shelves, exposing how faded out the wallpaper behind the old art was but leaving it exposed anyway. The bathrooms are third world level.

In the middle of each is a Nook display taking up substantial acreage while appearing to generate little customer interest. This has been increasingly augmented with an expanding halo of toys and knicknacks.

I was never a fan of Borders, but I have to give that company props for going out with some dignity. B&N is like that once-vital, professional, and capable businessman neighbor who has begun the long slide into dementia and has started wandering aimlessly through the neighborhood and impulse-buying shiny things he sees on late-night infomercials.

Blogger Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus January 24, 2017 9:44 AM  

Obviously, people need to be browbeaten for their racism and sexism so more.

Blogger VD January 24, 2017 9:48 AM  

Will it be a new QM story or a graphic novelization of an existing one?

We're beginning with A Man Disrupted.

Who is the "formidable player" Vox hinted at? Baen?

Oh, that's funny. Baen is MUCH closer in size to us than they are to this particular player.

Blogger Silly But True January 24, 2017 9:48 AM  

@Scott,
Depending on how bad the reavers gonna reave, it'll actually be a net good. Instead of fretting about whether dodgeball or competitive sports having winners or losers are acceptable playground/PE activities, maybe elementary schools will start reintroducing firearms in gym and teach students to kill the pedos who come around to rape whatever they get their hands on.

Blogger mushroom January 24, 2017 9:51 AM  

...it looks less like "speculative fiction" than Harlequin Romances with wizards or ray guns. Or soap opera instead of space opera.

I haven't been to B&N in a while, but that's sounds like what it looked like on my last visit.

Anonymous TD January 24, 2017 9:51 AM  

B-but, did Nick Cole include the paranormal teen romance section? Last time I was at a B&N, I was stunned to see its own group of shelves.

@19 Baen already had ebooks for a while. I don't think it's them.

Blogger Cail Corishev January 24, 2017 10:03 AM  

I had a similar experience when I stopped in a chain bookstore at the mall while Christmas shopping. I hadn't been there in years, and was just curious. The SF/F section was toward the back where it was 30 years ago, so I can't complain about that. But it was certainly smaller, and it looked like other genres were creeping into its shelves from both sides. It looked about the same size as the biography section. I looked around to see if they still had any D&D materials -- nope -- and got out.

My main thought there was, "What's the point?" Thirty years ago, we didn't have a choice but to use bookstores. But now it felt like a grocery store that only sells bread and peanut butter. If you only want to read what everyone else is reading, maybe you're happy there; but otherwise, going there expecting to find a book you want is like buying a lottery ticket. Sure, they can order books for you, but why not do it yourself?

Basically, I don't know why they still exist. It's like spotting a hitching rail on a city street.

Blogger slarrow January 24, 2017 10:17 AM  

Once upon a time, the sci-fi/fantasy section in B&N looked like it was written for teenage boys.

Now it looks like it's written for teenage girls.

Used to be, those boys would want to go out and experience the world like their heroes in the books. Now, the girls whine and moan at home waiting for the super-magical super-stud to come and ravish their portly bodies. This is not improvement.

Blogger Were-Puppy January 24, 2017 10:22 AM  

@4 Napoleon 12pdr

Star Trek

https://i.imgflip.com/1i70n4.jpg

Anonymous Kudos The Lexecutioner January 24, 2017 10:31 AM  

It used to be that I couldn't get out of the local Barnes & Noble mall store without a sack full of books and a $200+ receipt.

I haven't been in one in years.

If binge SF/F buyers like me are staying away in droves, B&N and other big-box booksellers are dead men walking.

Anonymous Yann January 24, 2017 10:38 AM  

Well, indeed Joel Cunningham is 100% right when he says

From The Time Machine to Kirk and Uhura‘s unprecedented kiss, speculative fiction has often concerned itself with breaking barriers and exploring issues of race, inequality, and injustice.

And this is exactly what SF is NOT doing nowadays. SF has become conformist and politically correct. It doesn't even explore the biggest injustice of our age: one group of people, the ones who brought 99% of progress and advancement that has happened in this planet, they're suddenly blamed for every problem in the World.

Joel is right. SF was speculative, audacious, inquisitive. Though it's not anymore, and that's why it's dying.

Anonymous a_peraspera January 24, 2017 10:40 AM  

Yes, the Sci-fi shelves at B&N are populated mostly with hot vampire romance now. Sad!

Or it's a female vampire detective...or female werewolf detective...or a female zombie detective.

Then there's the steampunk stuff where a woman in a Victorian dress and welding goggles is holding some kind of death-ray rifle.

The selection is rounded out by the NK Jemisin/Aliette de Bodard contingent of "white people suck" fiction. It's all very feminized. It shows the truth of the rumors - that all the big publishers have millenial women doing the gatekeeping.

Blogger Bard January 24, 2017 10:44 AM  

I have not seen the inside of a bookstore in years (probably 15). I used to spend hours there as a teen and young man. Graphic novel looks cool. Who is the artist?

Anonymous Ten41 January 24, 2017 10:46 AM  

This is reflected in my local library. While a small town, and a small library, it once had a full wing of the library area devoted to nothing but science/fantasy fiction. Now it has been whittled down to sharing what room it has with Westerns and some sundry books that don't really fit well into the other areas. Most of the science/fantasy fiction books that are there have covers that could be straight from a romance novel. The old science/fantasy books by the masters are pretty much gone from the room.

Anonymous srd January 24, 2017 10:49 AM  

@10 "It's amazing how these hack authors can't figure out that it IS possible to write good sci-fi that features all kinds of social justice"

What I find amazing is that no realizes that scifi literature has always been a study in the human condition where often science is the backdrop that allows for the presentation of the authors observations, objections, commentary -- as the issues have changed with time, so has scifi -- its not some grand conspiracy that lately it has been involved in sj issues .. its simple a reflection of the society as whole... you may not like that, and thats fine, that's you opinion. dont buy it -- there is a 1000 years worth of golden age you can buy/download and read...

Blogger Gaiseric January 24, 2017 10:52 AM  

Durandel Almiras wrote:Yes! Graphic novels in the Quantum Morris universe!
I wonder if Quantum Morris is the name of Schrodinger's cat?

Blogger S1AL January 24, 2017 10:55 AM  

"Oh, that's funny. Baen is MUCH closer in size to us than they are to this particular player."

My first thought is Penguin Random House.

Anonymous Joe Wooten January 24, 2017 10:57 AM  

The B&N in Joliet, IL has about 4 shelves of SF&F, but half of one is devoted to Star Trek/Star Wars crap books and most of the rest is crap by the same old SJW authors. Only a few Niven/Pournelle/Heinlein books and damn few by Larry Corriera and John Ringo. I had a couple of $25 gift cards I got for Christmas to use up and ended up buying three novels, including a pile of dreck written by Ben Bova that I am having a hard time finishing.

Their history section has similarly shrunk. It also was not very crowded.
I do not give B&N very much longer. 2018 at the latest.

Blogger Fifty Seven January 24, 2017 10:59 AM  

My local B&N still has a pretty good stock of SFF. Not as good as BAM, but good. Correia, Weber and others for sale, but like others have noted, there's a lot of "Chick in black leather with sword" stuff as well.
And a lot of Warhammer 40k stuff, which must be moving 'cause it's always stocked.

Blogger Matthew McDaniel January 24, 2017 11:06 AM  

Bradbury said in Fahrenheit 451 that people would steal be reading the comics long after they'd stopped reading the printed word. Comics are in a weird position right now. Graphic novel sales are rising, but traditional comics are dead & limp along on sales from gimmicks & movie tie-ins. They're also becoming more & more "converged."

Side note- Star Trek is funny. Chekhov still talking in a Russian accent in the far future? Maybe Slavs are the great white hope after all.

Blogger Matthew McDaniel January 24, 2017 11:09 AM  

I would also add that science fiction has always been a thinly veiled reflection of "the current year." Current state of books is just a sign of the sickness in the soul of our civilization.

Anonymous Kevin January 24, 2017 11:25 AM  

People who enjoy sci-fi also enjoy playing video games, watching sci-fi movies and TV-shows.

As a personal example, I used to read sci-fi all the time, now wiped out by professional reading, I just sit down and Netflix offers more options than I can watch in the next 5 years. I am certainly missing out on amazing sci-fi, but hopefully I can catch up when I retire. Many people are probably following the same path.

Blogger BassmanCO January 24, 2017 11:34 AM  

@38 SRD

Bullshit. It is reflective of what the Big 5 (who is losing market share every year) are putting out. Look at what sells on Amazon, especially in SFF, and you will see the market for non-SJW literature is much better than the typical Hugo-nominated crap (notice I said typical, as the Sad Puppies stuff is the exception). Also note that the Dragon awards had very few SJW titles, an award voted on purely by fans. You know, the people who speak with their wallets.

Blogger Dr Caveman January 24, 2017 11:39 AM  

Same in Chicago

Anonymous Be Deplorable, Not Afraid January 24, 2017 11:40 AM  

@31
Yeah. The biggest BN around here has a decently long aisle (both sides) of SF/F, but 1/3 of that is graphic novels, 10% is tie-ins, and half the rest seems to be "vampire whore" Laurel Hamilton-type stuff with shirtless studs and leather-clad, tramp-stamped chosen grrrrrls. Can't even find real horror anymore in bookstores, much less decent SF/F.

Anonymous Athor Pel January 24, 2017 11:41 AM  

"18. Blogger Scott Birch January 24, 2017 9:27 AM
My nieces and nephews are born into a time of reavers. Feels bad, man."



What do you think will happen if everyone's emotion management drugs run out. Many of them literally cause psychotic breaks if you come off them cold turkey. Now look at how many folks are taking SSRI or related pills.

If we ever get a TEOTWAWKI event(s) that's exactly what will happen. Reavers ... zombies, same thing really.

The lucky ones will be those with a few weeks or days of pills left. They'll be able to wean themselves off by lowering their dosage by chopping up their pills. The unlucky will be at the very end of their prescriptions. They will know they're going to go crazy, and won't be able to do a thing about it.

Blogger James Dixon January 24, 2017 11:42 AM  

> Baen already had ebooks for a while. I don't think it's them.

The also have a rather large free book selection including works by Correia, Drake, Flint, Hoyt, Ringo, Weber, and Williamson.

Anonymous BluePony January 24, 2017 11:51 AM  

I've had four fantasy books in the past couple years where I put it down (or closed the Kindle app) at the end of the chapter, fully intending to go back, and I realize weeks later I never did. Nor did I care.

It wasn't SJW nonsense or anything like that. The authors just seemed incapable of getting their story moving, like everyone is trying to be the next Robert Jordan. Yes, more 800 page books that describe the events of two days, please.

Maybe as I get older I feel I have less time for a full page description of vines growing on a wall. I think I'm just going to go write my own stuff- simple and straight forward. Maybe I can be the next Chuck Tingle.

Anonymous AzDesertRat January 24, 2017 12:11 PM  

As others have noted above, it must vary from store to store. Of the three B&N's within driving distance of my place two are what I would consider "Super" B&N's, i.e. huge floor space, well lit, coffee bar, toy section, board game section, multiple aisles of SF/F (although most of it is SJWish) located in central to front locations of the stores. The third is a smaller location but that one cut out all the excess (toys/games) and focuses mostly on books. For the most part all three have had a decent amount of foot traffic in them whenever I have visited.
An interesting aside, the two "Super" B&N's are located in middle to upper middle class areas that are predominantly white. The smaller store is located in a solid middle to lower middle class/working class area, but that is still significantly whiter than other sections of the city.

Blogger Fenris Wulf January 24, 2017 12:13 PM  

BluePony wrote:a full page description of vines growing on a wall.
Unless it's Mervyn Peake.

Blogger bob kek mando ( Death To The Boor-geois, Keks To The Lol-etariat ) January 24, 2017 12:29 PM  

went to my local B&N Saturday.

SF&F is down to adjacent sides in two aisles and a large percentage of that is the 'universe' books ( ST / SW / D&D ) which i never look at. i think they also have comic graphic novels filed with the SFF? so about 60% of a single double sided shelving unit is serving the independent domestic spec fic market.

Anime has another two sides on the adjoining shelf unit, may actually be bigger than the SFF section proper.

not that i have anything against anime / manga ( except for Shinji ), but it's from an entirely different culture and certainly isn't what i would consider part of what used to be the dominant English language SFF scene.

Anonymous A.B. Prosper January 24, 2017 12:49 PM  

Large parts of California is a semi post literate society mainly do to Mestizo immigration although Asians aren't avid fiction readers either.

From experience, I've visited half a dozen at least, A typical So-Cal B&N does have about two shelves of S.F and Manga which sells well as well as two shelves of teen books, mostly dystopian SF . Minus the Manga its about as much as it was during the early 80's at a smaller store

Book are so deprecated in L.A. and So. Cal that almost every book store new and used was closed and even a $1 book store run as a charity where the stock is mostly free has trouble maintaining itself. The owner had like 4 stores at one time and is down to one maybe two

This isn't a quality issue per se though its a big part but a culture that has no interest in the written word. This includes Irvine I suspect, a lot of Asians there and they tend to buy tech books from what I've seen.

And note I don't seen many Kindle or the like either.

People just aren't reading much.

I will say though just as bob kek mando noted, some stores have better stock and some in say Vegas have huge amounts.

A lot of it is mediocre and pink but that is to be expected , Sturgeons Law and all that

Anonymous BBGKB January 24, 2017 12:56 PM  

Maybe that was because it was stuck on the second floor, back near the bathroom. You know where they keep all the best seller

To be honest I may be the only person to have ever bought a book from the front of a gay book store, the back of all of them are basically adult stores.

That's odd, all the B&Ns I visit in the Central Florida area have at least 3-4 aisles of SF-Fantasy.

I pulled up a map of Florida and most of the B&N in the state are right around Orlando. I wonder why that city is able to support so many/sarc. Actually looking at the distribution in FL lets you know about where the white/literate people are.

Over centuries, many racial differences do get settled - we don't

IQ differences wont get settled until genetic engineering, although short distance runtimes would be easier to equalize.

It's going to look like Idiocracy. Haven't been to the DMV recently?

turkey. Now look at how many folks are taking SSRI or related pills.

Some of them are not even crazy but think they should be happy all the time. Of course they wont last when the SHTF. Definitely don't want to be near the gayborhood when the pills run out.

Anonymous An Israeli January 24, 2017 1:01 PM  

VD,

I checked the Pronoun website. I don't understand how they make money. Do they get more than 70% from Amazon or do they simply try to sell the authors who publish through them on various services?

What benefit is there to publish through them and not directly?

Blogger VD January 24, 2017 1:42 PM  

What benefit is there to publish through them and not directly?

They put it everywhere, not just on Amazon. I don't know how they make money either.

Anonymous Shut up rabbit January 24, 2017 1:51 PM  

I can't believe they named it Pronoun. Every special-snowflake author that signs up will be demanding they rename it after their own chosen, gender-neutral pronoun.

Blogger Ken Prescott January 24, 2017 1:58 PM  

A pronoun is a noun that has lost its amateur status.

An adverb is a verb used in sales and marketing.

I'll be here all week. Don't forget to tip your waitresses.

Blogger Worlds Edge January 24, 2017 1:58 PM  

If they open an SJW friendly imprint, would that be Preferred Pronoun? (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Also, there's an interesting discussion about Pronoun over at The Passive Voice. Nobody could figure out how they make their money; in fact they appear to actually lose money for ebooks on Amazon that sell for low prices, since Amazon takes a 50% cut and Pronoun is still offering a 70% royalty. The consensus seemed to be they're either going to do some sort of hard-sell for services for editing, formatting and covers or there's an undisclosed bait and switch lurking in there somewhere. Some of that might even be worth it, since there's no way at present for someone looking to self-publish to get onto the Google Play store, though I have no idea how big a market that is. I'm thinking Pronoun should be viewed on a wait and see basis at present, but that's me.

Anonymous BBGKB January 24, 2017 2:00 PM  

Every special-snowflake author that signs up will be demanding they rename it after their own chosen, gender-neutral pronoun.

My new gender pronoun is BestSellingAuthor

Blogger Ingot9455 January 24, 2017 2:03 PM  

Was in my local Barnes and Noble over the weekend and while the SF/Fantasy section was still of decent size, the problem was that it was undigested pap.

Whoever is writing back cover blurbs needs to be shot. Reading the back cover sucked excitement away instead of encouraging it. The names desperately needed a Neal Stephenson Apostropocalypse. Opening up to random pages; i could never find a turn of phrase that interested me.

'Sad!' as we are now taught to say.

Blogger Worlds Edge January 24, 2017 2:09 PM  

The science fiction section consisted of three small shelves, badly, and fully, stocked with some standard big hitters for sure-fire sales.

This surprises me, as the SF&F section of the B&Ns I've visited in Connecticut and Massachusetts have two to two and a half aisles of a fairly good mix of titles. And though that does include tie-ins to ST/SW, etc., it does not include YA or Graphic novels, both of which are shelved elsewhere.

Blogger John Wright January 24, 2017 3:00 PM  

" The fantastical elements of genre, from alien beings to magical ones, allow writers to confront controversial issues in metaphor, granting them a subversive power that often goes unheralded."

It was exactly this attitude, this speaking of subversion as a virtue, that provoked the birth and growth of the Superversive literary movement.

Subversion is a communist term for undermining Western Civilization.

Not every book needs to undermine your children's natural love and loyalty to family, parish, flag and cross.

Blogger John Wright January 24, 2017 3:08 PM  

@34
"SF was speculative, audacious, inquisitive. Though it's not anymore, and that's why it's dying."

Bravo! Hear, hear.

Blogger Brian Niemeier January 24, 2017 5:10 PM  

"The fantastical elements of genre, from alien beings to magical ones, allow writers to confront controversial issues in metaphor..."

Much to science fiction's detriment, none of the ideas explored on that book list have been controversial for half a century.

And no mention of fun, either.

Blogger Jose January 24, 2017 5:58 PM  

Worlds Edge wrote:The science fiction section consisted of three small shelves, badly, and fully, stocked with some standard big hitters for sure-fire sales.

This surprises me, as the SF&F section of the B&Ns I've visited in Connecticut and Massachusetts have two to two and a half aisles of a fairly good mix of titles. And though that does include tie-ins to ST/SW, etc., it does not include YA or Graphic novels, both of which are shelved elsewhere.


Just saw basically the same at the local B&N, not that I buy books there (e-books rule!), though I go there a fair amount since they are the last remaining purveyor of Godiva chocolates and cookies within walking distance.

On the other hand, a number of specialty bookstores in the area (SF/F bookstores where I used to find old out-of-print books that now I get for the kindle) have disappeared (gee, I wonder if the previous parenthetical statement has something to do with this).

This being Berkeley, the customer service was basically what you'd expect, and the books were sorted in piles at random with no sense whatsoever, so...

(I currently self-identify as the USSR three-stage device RDS-220; my pronouns are Lithium-6-Deuteride/Tritium; correctly address me as "Your Resplendence".)

Blogger Jose January 24, 2017 6:07 PM  

BBGKB wrote:Every special-snowflake author that signs up will be demanding they rename it after their own chosen, gender-neutral pronoun.

My new gender pronoun is BestSellingAuthor


Are you making fun of gender-fluid people?

(I currently self-identify as the infinite number Aleph-3; my pronouns are functor/functional; correctly address me as "Your Immensitude.")

Blogger J Van Stry January 24, 2017 7:08 PM  

Pronoun may pay 70 percent to Amazon's 68.5 percent, but that is before Paypal takes out -their- 2.9 percent (plus 30 cents).

So it isn't actually better than Amazon, because paypal is your only option with Pronoun.
I believe that Smashwords, who also has a deal with paypal (but not exclusive, you can opt for a paper check to be mailed to you) has a better deal, and they made a deal with paypal so that the author doesn't have to pay the service charge.

So up front, I'm not impressed by Pronoun. They (MacMillian) obviously didn't do their homework when they tried to 'outshine' Amazon. But at least they are trying. For now, I'll stay exclusive with Amazon for my self-published works.

Blogger Mordakei Silberreich January 24, 2017 7:14 PM  

The one I worked for had 2 plus, maybe it was 3 or 4. A lot of Game of Thrones and the Hobbit, and always seemed to have to order what people were lookig for, or not be able to get it.

Blogger Doc Rampage January 24, 2017 7:20 PM  

SJW entryism certainly have played a part in the decline of SF&F, but a lot of what we are seeing is just technological and cultural evolution. The original pulp SF was popular as adventure fiction for (mostly) young men. When SF went all literary and meaningful, young men switched to fantasy (although we came back for David Drake and the other military SF writers--it's a shame how Drake's books have declined as he became more progressive). But meanwhile, technology had provided men with adventure TV, adventure movies, and adventure computer games to occupy our limited leisure time.

SF&F books are now competing in the young-men demographic with lots of other stuff, and that is part of the reason for the decline. It is also part of the reason for the vampire-romance and SJW crap; since sales to men declined they wanted to bring in women readers.

Blogger Mordakei Silberreich January 24, 2017 7:29 PM  

I worked at a Barnes and Noble a couole years ago. It's slowly but surely dying. I remember being curious about te Twilight movies and whether or not they were still selling since they were still being stocked, not apparently not, at least at mine. You can see this with the history function of their scanners, and the prices are also too high, something Vox has before mentioned. Also, they are too PC, they have for example Girls Night for movies, but nothing equatable for men, which actually might sell better, with movies men are interested in and what not.

Anonymous Alice De Goon January 24, 2017 7:59 PM  

One thing you might want to consider is the making of visual novels. Sure, they're mostly anime-soaked dating sims right now, but I feel they could have real potential. I've seen some dark and serious themes explored with visual novels.

Blogger Cataline Sergius January 24, 2017 8:01 PM  

An impressive list.

Ursula K. Le Guin appeared on it once and The Dispossessed was eleventh down on the list. That was the only book of hers he listed.

And it was one of her worst.

Fucking tasteless.

Anonymous Lawyer Guy January 24, 2017 8:22 PM  

Borders had a better selection than Barnes. Barnes seems to be getting dumber as they spin from the Nook failure to overpriced games and dolls.

Agree on the SciFi section choices. I was thinking Furry sex before today to myself, but romance novels with rayguns is more spot on.

Blogger Cataline Sergius January 24, 2017 8:26 PM  

I have four B&Ns within easy driving distance. Three of them treat SFF as a deeply regretted afterthought.

But one of them actually treats them decently. Three walls worth and they aren't tucked away. Tellingly it has a complete selection of Larry Corriea's books with the latest of his paperbacks shelved with the cover facing out. John Ringo gets similarly faced.

According to an author I've talked to, if you have somebody facing your books on the shelves like that, you've got a fan working in that store.

I think that one of major reasons SFF has had hard times is that the people who work at B&N simply dislike SFF. The only stuff they think is worth having on the shelves is the crap on that list and no one wants to buy it.

Think about where we used to buy our books before B&N and Borders came along. It was the small specialty stores that those two elephants trampled to death.

The guys who ran those, loved science fiction. The people at B&N hate it.

Blogger Bear Brubaker January 24, 2017 8:33 PM  

My local Barnes & Nobel has 5 shelves of Sci Fi in the right hand corner. Three of the big shelves along the wall and one of the double sided shelves in the middle. One whole shelf of that is all the Movie & TV tie-in stuff like Star Trek, Star Wars, Warhammer 40K, regular Warhammer and like that. One of those shelves is half D&D books and half new releases. There is also a lot of comic book trade paperbacks.

That kinda brings their total amount of Sci-Fi down to about three shelves. (3.5 if you include the new releases/hardcovers.)

This area was in the bright corner on the left hand side of the store, right past the magazines and the new adult fiction. That was a really high profile spot, good lighting and you kinda had to see it if you went looking for anything new fiction that wasn't on one of the promo tables. They ditched that, moved it to the other side of the store next to the Children's Books and buried it behind TWO shelves of YA Vampire romance and other YA stuff.

That shelf of YA Vampire stuff is a 6' high double-sided shelf, BTW. It's a big area.

I was telling Nick that I haven't purchased a Sci-Fi book from Tor or Orbit in a couple of years. I have been buying some nice Sci-Fi and horror books from the "Big 5", but none from the two companies (labels?) that are dedicated to Sci-Fi. Most of what they publish is either urban fantasy or straight fantasy trying to compete with Game of Thrones. I'm sure there is still a big market for straight fantasy, I can't get into it any more myself.

You can see that hard Sci-Fi and Horror is in decline right now and you can be sure it is hitting those big publishers right in the pocketbook. Mid-list authors thrived on horror & Sci-Fi in the past. Mid-list horror publisher Leisure went out of business a few years ago and pretty much 100% of their authors just dried up and disappeared. (You can still find a few of them haunting those Cemetery Dance limited hardcovers.)

Other than James SA Corey, hard Sci-Fi seems pretty dead with the big publishers. I miss Philip Palmer.

Blogger Happy LP9 January 24, 2017 9:00 PM  

Barnes and Noble used to be livable or tenable to hang out in or spend the day reading now its just awful.

Castalia House will over take the whole scene in due time.

Blogger flyingtiger January 25, 2017 12:56 AM  

I checked the list of SJW Sci-fi books. Not one by Mack Reynolds, or Frederick Pohl. Those were SJWs who could write. They were also pale CIS males so maybe that is why they are not listed. The Democratic party is not the only place that wants to ban white males.

Blogger tublecane January 25, 2017 2:48 AM  

@29-Yes, it is odd to see so specific a category identified as its own section. Not enough just to have "teen" or "teen romance" or "paranormal romance" or "paranormal teen."

Blogger tublecane January 25, 2017 2:53 AM  

The Barnes and Noble nearest me has at least a whole aisle dedicated to sci-fi/fantasy. I don't normally buy from there, so I can't say how good the selection is. I'd wager it's 95% classics/romance/horror/endless series/political claptrap. It's one of the bigger sections, though not as big as comics and teen novels, and on par with mystery and romance proper.

Poetry, meanwhile, doesn't merit an entire bookcase. More like two shelves, not counting drama. War gets a little bit more than sociology/anthropology. Aside from comic books and teen stuff, self-help and cookbooks take the cake.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 25, 2017 1:12 PM  

I've had an idea for what I think could be a very well received graphic novel for some years now, but have not been able to find an artist who can execute my vision. Pity, really.

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