This is why I hate the book business.

There’s been a raft of publicity for William Deresiewicz’s book “Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life” wherein the author decries the soft choices of today’s Ivy League graduates.

But I can’t buy it.

Oh, it began in “The New Republic,” with the story

“Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League”

But even though I was forwarded that article numerous times, it seemed like link-bait to me, so I skimmed it and moved on.

Then I became a bit more curious when the “New York Times” wrote about it on August 5th,

“This Is What An Ivy League Education Will Get You”

But I wasn’t closed until I read a review of the book on the front page of yesterday’s “New York Times” Arts section entitled

“Lowered Ambitions in Higher Education”

I just clicked to download a sample chapter on my Kindle. I wanted to check the book out.

But I can’t. It’s unavailable until August 19th.

Did you get the memo that the music industry is going to go to a worldwide release date? Finally, they’re waking up, a decade and a half too late. They’re mostly worried about piracy, but at least you can coordinate publicity.

That’s the truth, we live in a worldwide economy.

But at least people want to steal music. They don’t care that much about books.

That’s the essence of a desirable product, the degree to which people will clamor for it and download it illicitly if you don’t make it available commercially.

That’s just how dumb the book publishers are. Which is why it’s hard to take their side in the battle against Amazon, not that Amazon is right, but why do the publishers have to be so STUPID!

What is Simon and Schuster trying to achieve here? A big first week debut?

Talk to the music industry, where number one gets you one week bragging rights. Has ANYBODY spoken to you, e-mailed you, texted you about the new Tom Petty album this week? OF COURSE NOT, THAT’S LAST WEEK’S STORY!

And the way you get something to last is by infecting the public with quality. The public is the decider, not the media establishment. We not only make hits, more importantly we SUSTAIN THEM!

I’m not gonna bother stealing this book, it’s too much effort. But will I remember to download it a week from now, when the publicity’s history and I’ve forgotten about it?

We live in a day and date economy. If you’re gonna hype, let me buy it.

And sure, the cumulative hype may have helped get me interested in the book, but I can’t spread the word personally, because I can’t READ IT!

And I want to, because yesterday’s review told me 50% of 2010 Harvard graduates went into finance. And that just sucks. Once upon a time we got artists like Tom Rush from Harvard, never mind Rivers Cuomo, and funny people from the Lampoon, now all we get is rapers and pillagers.

And the review went on to say that economics was the most popular major at the Top 10 liberal arts schools. I was reading the Middlebury magazine on a flight and marveled that economics was the number one major, no one I knew majored in the subject when I was there.

This is why we’ve got lousy music, the best and the brightest follow the money, and only the money.

But one thing’s for certain, when the boomers and Gen-X’ers retire the new generation that takes over this world will know that if you’re hyping, you’ve got to be selling at the same time. That if you’re getting people interested, let them click to buy, there’s just too much information for them to remember weeks down the line.

So, same as it ever was. The entertainment companies believe they’re better than us and their customer are middlemen. Didn’t Simon and Schuster ever hear of Napster? Have they been paying attention to the music business AT ALL?

In our world we love the sound so much that the new paradigm is no promotion, you don’t even hype it until it’s available, just ask Beyonce.

But Beyonce has more impact than seemingly any writer, and Simon and Schuster is doing its best to keep it that way.

P.S. The first thing I looked for on the Amazon page was customer reviews. I don’t trust the hype. But with no publication, no reviews. Huh? I don’t care what the establishment has to say, I care about what WE have to say!

3 Responses to Availability


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  1. […] From the Leftsetz Letter: An interesting article on book availability […]

  2. Pingback by The Daily Spin: Industry News for 8-15-14 | 829 Records | 2014/08/15 at 14:19:07

    […] (Lefsetz Letter)¬†– There are so many areas where today’s book business¬†intersects with the music industry. […]

  3. Pingback by Publication dates | Making Book | 2014/12/12 at 08:38:09

    […] isn’t like that any more. The Digital Reader sends a link to this rant from The Lefsetz Letter. The guy has a point. In this age of instant gratification (or […]

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