Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Steve Rubin

I understand that Quill & Quire is in the business of germinating rubles, though it's fascinating to watch the constant heavy-footed hopscotch hops to both sides of the line bifurcating the boxes marked "art" and "commerce".

In the critical section, there've been many thoughtful book reviews over the years, more impressive for their coherence and intelligence within a space not much larger than a Christmas Seal.

Then we have the other side of the ruble (or to be fair to struggling book resources in Canada, the other side of the kopeck) where the philosophy of Texas prevails ("big is best"). In their Quillcast section, readers and listeners were beneficiaries of a well-done interview with Clarke Blaise upon the author's release of The Meagre Tarmac in which a thoughtful career retrospective backgrounded talk of this latest volume. Two podcasts later, and it's Steve Rubin, prominent publisher of several "too big to fail" conglomerates since 1984 (unavoidable symbolic overtones, though Aldous Huxley made a much better prognosticator than did Orwell) gushing in self-love over his power-point primer in how he's shepherded success, success measured only by the cash register's ring and the amazonian cart-bar.

Look, I get it. Every business wants to do well. And I define business here in much broader terms than Quill & Quire or Bantam Doubleday Dell International Incorporated LLC MegaResource Cloud Tablet MultiFocus Emporium. A single person -- an author -- is a business, as well, at times. But can anyone other than a Rubin-sympatico focus on money, exclusively, at the expense of creative excitement? Why, yes, many can. Look up a few of the wildly popular personal blogs that have popped up like bad mushrooms the past year in the wake of the spike in self-publishing sales juiced by Kindle and author-friendly terms from Amazon. I won't name them since I don't want to bolster any traffic to those sites, but they of course get a lot of traffic (including comment stream chatter) because books hold more interest for those in the writing biz as truncated silver than as art, more interest not just for the blockbuster Rubins and enabling Quill & Quires, but, more importantly and more ominously, for authors themselves.

Maybe some rag should do a story on that. Oh, wait. Sponsors. Which brings us back across the line to creative content. Pleasing two masters, extra birds in the bush .... I'm sure you can think of your own symbols.

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