Archives for category: Book publishing

Jonathan Karp’s response to the staff petition demanding the cancellation of the company’s contract for two books by Mike Pence includes this paragraph:

“The question of which books we should publish is addressed by our editors and publishers on a daily basis. Our role is to find those authors and works that can shed light on our world — from first-time novelists to journalists, thought leaders, scientists, memoirists, personalities, and, yes, those who walk the halls of power. Regardless of where those authors sit on the ideological spectrum, or if they hold views that run counter to the belief systems held by some of us, we apply a rigorous standard to assure that in acquiring books, we will be bringing into the world works that provide new information or perspectives on events to which we otherwise might not have access.”

Well OK, sounds good; and what else can you say to obstreperous workers? But this is in effect just so much malarkey. “Our role is to find those authors and works that can shed light on our world”, etc., etc. Oh yeah? — Not really. Our role is to publish stuff that we can sell, within the subject areas we’ve decided are those in which we’ll publish, and thereby make as much of a profit as we can. And we’ve got the shareholders to prove it! It may well be that works that shed light on our world can indeed make money, but so too can lots of others shedding darkness or indeed shedding nothing much, even Pence-dreadfuls, and if we can sell them, then by God we’ve got every right to publish them! And of course this is exactly how it should (must) be.

There’s no doubt that Mr Karp, who is, I’m sure, a brilliantly right-thinking guy, has a hard row to harrow here. Staff concerns have to be answered. Part of the difficulty is that this sort of politically correct publishing rhetoric carries its own risks. Surely political opinion is polarized enough in this country without liberal publishing people advocating illiberal censorship policies.

Shelf Awareness reports “Adam Bellow, executive editor of Post Hill’s Bombardier imprint [publisher of the Mattingly book discussed in my recent post] told the newspaper [New York Times]: ‘It’s a purge that’s becoming more of an exodus. Many conservative authors are telling their agents they don’t want to be pitched to publishers who have canceled conservative books. It’s one thing to be published by a group of people who are holding their noses, but it’s another thing to be published by a group of people who hate you.'”

For me the National Coalition Against Censorship nails it in their statement “Limiting what books are written, published and circulated based on the personal beliefs of a group of people who work in publishing deprives readers of the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they have any value and limits debate over important public issues. . . For over a century, publishers have played a leading role in defending free speech. However, they are increasingly being pressured to act as moral guardians by rejecting authors based on allegations about their personal conduct and their political views. But lasting social change comes from vibrant discussion and even bitter debate. Censoring books does not eliminate bad ideas.”

Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t Voltaire who said “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”* but these words, so supportive of our cherished right of free speech, should perhaps be being called to mind these days by more publishing employees. You may not like the years 2016-2020 but you won’t make then disappear by trying never to mention them or trying to stop people writing about them. Burying your head in the sand is maladaptive.

So much discussion of the book business is flawed by an elementary category error. There is, to be sure, something conveyed by the word “publishing” but it’s not a term with any analytical power. Publishing is made up of many, many individual publishing houses, each one of which contains people with a wide variety of opinion; so to write about publishing’s opinions and policies as if that meant anything, is just nonsense. Even a publication as respectable as The New Republic (link via LitHub) apparently cannot avoid this pitfall, and they allow their author Alex Shephard to drive a coach and four right into it. It’s no doubt satisfying to write sentences like “So they are left with empty rhetoric that only shows that these publishers have long since abandoned their roots as plucky free-speech warriors championing Ulysses.” But who are the “they” here? S&S didn’t actually publish Ulysses so “their” dubious roots as plucky-free-speech warriors come from somewhere else. I doubt if they, or Jonathan Karp, have ever described themselves as plucky-free-speech warriors. Random House published Ulysses, no doubt in the hope of making some money. The free-speech angle, insofar as it existed, was part rhetoric and part marketing ploy.

A former colleague, Colin Day wrote to The New York Times the other day suggesting that the appropriate way for Simon & Schuster to have dealt with their Mike Pence problem would have been to have offered a contract with no advance, or at least a low one. The trouble with that argument is a similar category issue — What is meant by S&S here? I think we can assume that the S&S editor who signed up the book really believes in it, as no doubt do lots of employees who’ve published lots of political books like these two Pence volumes. 200 or so S&S staffers vigorously disagree. But after all S&S does have an imprint, Regnery Publishing, which exists to publish books by conservatives: these are not books they get by accident. That some employees have written a petition objecting to this doesn’t really mean that S&S is ambiguous about the project. As a company they are, I expect, gung-ho believers in the idea that books which will make lots of money are a good thing, and that Pence’s pair will make plenty. Liberals need to remember that people who do not share their political views have been known to read books.


*These inspiring words, often attributed to Voltaire though nobody seems to be able to dig out chapter and verse, seem to fall into a category actually identified by Voltaire — “Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer.” If the Master didn’t say it, let’s just say he did.

Medieval Cistercian monks, and their current descendants at UCL, delighted in numerical invention.

Click on the arrow in the middle of the image above, and you get to witness a couple of hundred numbers passing before your eyes.

The monks’ invention came at about the same time as the Arabic numbers we all know and love were being introduced into Europe. With better timing this Cistercian method might have turned out to be the way we worked. The numbers could be presented with the vertical axis aligned horizontally, and this was obviously more convenient in text. Here, from Wikipedia, is an example. The numbers have been rotated anti-clockwise.

The entry for the word ‘aqua’ in an early-thirteenth-century concordance from Brussels. Each character is a page/column number. These early Cistercian forms, with 3 and 4 swapped for 7 and 8, plus single and double dots for 5 and 6 and a triangular 9, are found in only one other surviving manuscript. The numbers are,
21, 41, 81, 85, 106, 115,
146, 148, 150, 169, 194, 198,
267, 268, 272, 281, 284, 295,
296, 317, 343, 368, 378, 387,
403, 404, 405, 420, 434, 435,
436, 446, 476, 506, 508, 552,
566, 591, 601, 604, 628, 635,
659, 678, 686, 697, 724, 759,
779, 783, 803, 818, 834, 858.

Not quite sure I understand the reasons behind the swapping that’s described in the caption. I’d want the second number to be 81, but I can’t face the mental contortion of refiguring the whys and wherefores.

These strokes were doubtless more convenient for large numbers than the contemporary alternative of Roman numerals, although to us they are obviously harder to interpret. Practice might make perfect, but I’m unlikely to put this to the test — although I am currently involved in an ongoing variously encoded correspondence with my great-nephew and this might represent a killer escalation! I can see it combined with runes!

At least in the UK the sales gap between ebooks and p-books (print books) appears to have narrowed. The New Publishing Standard sends us a report that the Publishers Association’s latest sales numbers for 2020 show an overall annual increase of 2%. Print sales were down 6% to £3.4 billion, while digital sales rose 12% to £3 billion: only a £400,000,000 gap. NPS provides more detail, though he does allow a little distortion by discussing sometimes total sales and sometimes trade sales only.

Perspective demands that one note that these numbers represent one year’s data, and for most of the period reported on bookshops were actually shut or running a sort of skeleton operation, making it much easier to get hold of an ebook than its physical manifestation. But a change is a change, and we have to take note of it. A couple of weeks ago I wrote that the proportion of ebook to print-book sales had remained fairly steady during the pandemic (in America). Thus this British evidence should provoke some rethinking. Should we rush to the conclusion that the print book is dead?

The idea that publishers don’t want to sell ebooks seems deeply entrenched in the mind of the commentariat. As long as publishers “have to” print physical copies, we will remain fixated on selling them: ebooks don’t represent a tying up of your capital in inventory which, if it doesn’t move out of the warehouse, has the potential ultimately to bring you down. Publishers don’t print physical books because they hate ebooks: they print p-books because the majority of their customers prefer them. Given this capital consumption, it cannot be surprising that publishers appear fixated on printed books. Is change a-coming? Nobody could argue that 2020 was typical in any way — so this data comes from a pretty cloudy source.

Nevertheless this is the first suggestion for years that the relative popularity of ebooks might actually be increasing. Will this trend continue? Wait and see is about all I can say.

Jonathan Karp’s letter to staff justifying Simon & Schuster’s decision not to distribute The Fight for Truth: The Inside Story Behind the Breonna Taylor Tragedy may be found at that link.

“We first became aware of the publishing deal with [Louisville police officer Jonathan] Mattingly through news reports, social media posts and press queries, beginning around 12 p.m. [Thursday]. We had no prior knowledge of the book and had not been informed by our distribution partner that it was in the works. By last night we had decided that we could not distribute this book, and after informing Post Hill Press we issued an announcement.”

“Although all of us involved in this decision shared an immediate and strong consensus about not wanting any role whatsoever in the distribution of this particular book, we are mindful of the unsustainable precedent of rendering our judgment on the thousands of titles from independent publishers whose books we distribute to our accounts, but whose acquisitions we do not control.”

To me these two paragraphs are the key to potential disagreement with the decision. 1. they haven’t had time to read the book, and 2. it’s a book from a distribution partner “whose acquisitions we do not control.”

* * * *

Well, above all, we do have to assert that any publisher must be free to publish (or decide not to publish) any book which they want or don’t want to publish.

Should it make any difference that the publisher is a distribution client, and the book won’t be being “published” by Simon & Schuster? I kind of think it maybe should: after all as Mr Karp says S&S don’t have any say in Post Hill Press’s acquisitions policy. And should it make a difference that the distributing publisher has published many a right wing tome? — Regnery is a Simon & Schuster imprint which exists to publish books by conservatives. Of course we (and I guess S&S) have no idea whether Mr Mattingly has written a right-wing tome, indeed what line he takes on the Louisville no-knock-warrant raid. I guess we can assume, can we, a certain amount of self justification? Whatever, is Jonathan Mattingly “worse” than Milo Yiannopoulos?

Mr Karp returns to the fray (as he’ll no doubt have to do many times) with this statement also reported by Publishers Weekly. Not sure he convinces me — but once you embark on this slope it becomes ever more slippery. The reality is we (publishers) retain the right to do whatever the heck we want. I hasten to point out again that I don’t regard this as in any way “a bad thing”, however indiscrete it may be just to state it that baldly. What else can we do? There can be no requirements that a particular publisher must publish this or that book (even option clauses in authors’ contracts committing to the next book allow for an out based on timing or quality). The decision to invest your money in this project and not in that one is fundamental to the freedom of action any business has. S&S may have signed Mike Pence, but they did cancel Josh Hawley’s contract. Staff are asking them to cancel Pence too.

Now comes the news that, “following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct leveled at the author”, W. W. Norton have decided to withdraw Blake Bailey’s biography of Philip Roth as well as a memoir he published with them in 2014. Both books are now out of print. According to BookScan the Roth biography had already sold 11,000 copies, so Norton will at least have recovered most of their production investment in the book even though they did print 50,000. The unearned portion of the advance against royalties they will of course sacrifice, and, as Publishers Weekly tells us, they are making a donation of the same size as the full advance “to organizations that fight against sexual assault or harassment and work to protect survivors”.

Whether you are for or against Mattingly, Pence, Bailey et al., it remains true that publishers are free to publish whatever they like/choose. You can’t have all of your staff out demonstrating in the street against your publishing policy, as Hachette did in the Woody Allen fiasco, and nobody would ever imagine decisions of this kind are easy. Still, a publisher will publish what a publisher decides to publish: at the end of the day if any employee objects to this or that decision their recourse can only be to move to another company. Ditto for prospective authors.

To my mind the best response to speech you disapprove of is more speech. I have to think Simon & Schuster would have done better to get someone to write another book answering whatever it is Mr Mattingly may have gotten “wrong”. Cancel culture is surely something publishers should be working against.

See also Prior restraint.

David Gaughran (link via The Passive Voice) provides a hugely detailed description of how Amazon’s recommendation and “People who bought this also bought that” systems work in their online store. “Other retailers do have rudimentary recommendation engines, but Amazon is quite literally years ahead of the competition.” They also use the technique in stocking and displaying the books their quasi-showcase bricks-and-mortar shops.

Mr Gaughran has written a book entitled Amazon Decoded from which much of this is no doubt derived. His focus is on self-publishing and how the self publisher can best adapt to Amazon’s algorithms. Surprise, surprise metadata is important.

How much of an effect does this sort of remorselessly placing books and more books in front of your customers actually have? If Amazon does it, I think we can assume it has an effect.

I recently wondered if these automated recommendation systems might actually be the reason for last year’s uptick in backlist as against new book sales. Any book you choose must be able to provoke the thought, if you liked A you might like B, and the algorithm putting this into action is bound to work with books which have sales large enough to register as good candidates — this means books already published and sold; i.e. backlist. Someone browsing in a store is, on the other hand, more likely to find the new book they are looking at surrounded by other new books. In so far as it’s in the shop, the backlist will be spine-out on a nearby shelf.

See also If you liked the previous post you’ll love this one.

In Chapter XI of The Way We Live Now, Anthony Trollope expatiates on book reviewing, a subject on which he may be expected to have been quite well informed:

“There is the review intended to sell a book, — which comes out immediately after the appearance of the book, or sometimes before it; the review which gives reputation, but does not affect the sale, and which comes a little later; the review which snuffs a book out quietly; the review which is to raise or lower the author a single peg, or two pegs, as the case may be; the review which is suddenly to make an author, and the review which is to crush him. An exuberant Jones [Trollope’s generic reviewer-for-hire] has been known before now to declare aloud that he would crush a man, and a self-confident Jones has been known to declare that he has accomplished the deed. Of all reviews the crushing review is the most popular, as being the most readable. When the rumour goes abroad that some notable man has been actually crushed — been positively driven over by an entire Juggernaut’s car of criticism till his body be a mere amorphous mass, — then real success has been achieved, and the Alf [the Editor of the “Evening Pulpit” newspaper] of the day has done a great thing; but even the crushing of a poor Lady Carbury, if it be absolute, is effective. Such a review will not make all the world call for the ‘Evening Pulpit,’ but it will cause those who do take the paper to be satisfied with their bargain. Whenever the circulation of such a paper begins to slacken, the proprietors should, as a matter of course, admonish their Alf to add a little power to the crushing department.”

Later he gives us insight into the methods of composition of many a book review: “The composition of the review, together with the reading of the book, consumed altogether perhaps an hour of Mr. Booker’s time. He made no attempt to cut the pages, but here and there read those that were open. He had done this kind of thing so often, that he knew well what he was about. He could have reviewed such a book when he was three parts asleep.”

I recently read of an apprentice journalist, asked to review a book which he did after a couple of hours. When he gave it to the editor it was immediately thrown out, and he was shown how such things ought to be done. The editor took up some scissors, clipped off the front flap of the jacket, pasted it onto a sheet of paper and sent that through to the composing department for setting in type. Now that there is ever less space to be filled by book reviews, I think we can perhaps assume that such copy creation methods are firmly in the past.

Trollope has the publisher of Lady Carbury’s book reassure her in terms I have often used myself, if less well expressed, “Anything is better than indifference, Lady Carbury. A great many people remember simply that the book has been noticed, but carry away nothing as to the purport of the review. It’s a very good advertisement.” Difficult to accept of course, but no less wise than the advice often given of never responding publicly to a bad review — it’s hard to avoid looking needy and pathetic in such a response. A few noble souls may manage to avoid ever reading a review of their work: those who cannot avoid yielding to the temptation should try to take everything they read with as large a pinch of salt as they can muster.

One might want to add here something about Byron’s “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers” written in response to a bad review of his first book, Hours of Idleness, in The Edinburgh Review, but in the poem the bard really just lays about him in all directions, without making too much of a case for “better” reviewing. It was published in 1809, and by 1812 Byron had decided to withdraw it because of its attacks on his fellow poets. To some extent the controversy Byron’s outburst caused was the making of him. See: there’s no such thing as a bad review, though usually the author would be wise to resist replying to it. Still, if you are Lord Byron, all bets are off.

The Passive Voice is written by a lawyer, so advice about contracts is right in his wheelhouse. Here’s Part 1 of “The Nine Worst Features in Your Publishing Contract”, dealing with the life of the contract, and Part 2 about sales performance standards. There may be future installments — he says his revisit will focus on the most toxic contract provisions, and here he’s dealt with but two.

Do bear in mind that if you care — if you are seriously thinking about making money off your writing — you have to have a lawyer look at your contract before you sign it. But of course bear in mind that lawyers exist to find things wrong in such situations, and you may get into a bit of a tangle which might result in trivial benefit to you, but lots of bad feelings on the other side of the table.

For myself, I wouldn’t be too concerned about lots of the legal things The Passive Voice routinely worries about, but then I’m not someone whose job description would ever be author. (And in my experience the publisher was fundamentally “on the author’s side”.) The contract lasts for the life of the copyright (which as we know is a long time)? So what? If the book’s not selling the copyright is virtually valueless anyway, and almost any publisher will be happy to revert the rights to you. You just need to ask. In my own case I didn’t even have to ask — they as good as said here it is, take it, we don’t need it anymore. (Nor of course did I.) Still, if you are writing a Hunt for Red October, and want to make bigger and bigger bucks off the movie franchise and novel sequels, then caution about being legally assured of being able to get your rights back might be a good idea. If your book is likely to be worth next to nothing in say ten years, then nobody loses anything by such a clause. If on the other hand if the book is still worth lots of money in ten years, the main loser, if no such clause exists, is likely to be you. A book like Hunt for Red October was no doubt worth a good deal more ten years after first publication than it was back in the early days. If your work might follow such a trajectory — caveat scriptor.

The Passive Voice‘s advice that you insist on a clause stating an end date for the contract might well be worth following. Many contracts do have a reversion clause specifying that once the book goes “out of print”, rights can revert to the author.  But now that we have invented POD, a publisher can keep a book “in print” for ever. This is great for many academic books — demand was small anyway and now it can keep on being filled even though there are no books sitting in the warehouse. But the further we get from the academic monograph, the more thought the author might need to give to this situation.

LitHub links to this Washington Post story about how independent bookstores have fared during the pandemic. Overall the answer has to be better than feared, I think. US bookstore sales were down about a third over the year before. The threat however isn’t just the loss of a third of your sales — the bigger risk is that customers may have become accustomed to getting their books by other means. We all could assume Amazon would prosper in such a world, but who’d have forecast that Target and Walmart would have become major book outlets?

Kerbside pickup, mailing books to buyers, and other dodges helped to preserve a significant portion of the market. After reopening things seem to be looking up a bit. James Daunt gave an upbeat report on Barnes & Noble’s progress at the IPBA conference: Publishers Weekly has the story. Of course it was only a week ago, on April 12th, that British bookshops were allowed to reopen at all — who knows what shaking out there may yet be? Early reactions are not discouraging.

One thing publishers have noticed (and remember that many/most publishers did rather well in 2020) is that sales of new books suffered while older books, backlist, picked up hugely. For example Amazon’s bestselling book for 2020 was a novel published in 2018: Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing. Wannabe blockbuster books which were published in 2020 have no doubt missed their chance. The New York Times writes about the phenomenon and attributes the backlist surge to readers seeking the solace of the familiar. My bet is that this reliance on the old familiar had more to do with Amazon’s recommendation system — those messages where if you look for X they’ll tell you that people who liked X also loved Y. To get into this virtuous cycle of recommendation and counter-recommendation you have to sell a lot of copies. In a world where older books are the ones with the sales, it becomes harder and harder for a new book to break into this back-scratching circle. Maybe in this thought lies some encouragement for the bricks-and-mortar bookstore: in order to launch a moonshot we need lots of people to buy lots of copies in lots of bookstore outlets.

Are we all getting more scam calls during the pandemic, or is it that while we are sitting at home all the time it just feels like we are getting more of them? One of the craziest ones is the person who introduces himself as Jason from Amazon customer service and tells me that my order for something worth $576.85 has just gone to shipping. Wouldn’t anyone who’s dealing with Amazon just look at their order history rather than give Jace their credit card number in order to cancel the shipment? I guess you only have to hook one or two, and optimism is obviously a prerequisite of working this beat. I now recognize the voice of my trouble-prone “grandson” who calls periodically to ask for help to get out of this or that bind.

I never thought of pretending to be the winner of a literary prize and sending an email to collect the prize money! This has however apparently happened to the organizers of the Folio Prize. Publishers Lunch of 14 April alerts us to the news: “UK literary prizes report incidents of scammers trying to claim award money. In one case, the Folio Prize admits to having paid £30,000 via PayPal to someone posing as the actual winner, Valeria Luiselli. Executive director Minna Fry tells the Bookseller, ‘The lost funds were absorbed by cost savings elsewhere within the charity’,* and Luiselli received her full award. Other UK prizes report to the magazine fending off similar malicious attempts. The Baillie Gifford Prize, The Forward Prizes for Poetry, and the Society of Authors were all asked by suspicious emails to send prize money through PayPal.”

So I guess seekers of literary fame and fortune will now just got to buckle down and write a good book.


*One wonders if that corresponds to the annual salary of the person who carried the can!

LitHub has published a piece by Robert Frank entitled On the Behavioral Economy of the Book World, originally published in The Author.

Mr Frank’s focus on the ebook is perhaps understandable. Of course it is possible that the physical book will disappear and all books become digital objects. Personally I doubt this, but I have to recognize that I won’t be around to find out the final verdict — because I do think that printed books will continue to be sold for the rest of my life. The proportion of print to digital sales seems settled at around 80%:20% even in the face of the pandemic, and any impending big change in the ratio would seem to me to have demanded an increase in the ebook proportion over recent years.

Now in a world consisting only of tradey ebooks Mr Frank’s analysis makes some sense. The article starts with an analysis of what makes a bestseller — the answer is “the winner-take-all-market” something about which Mr Frank has published a book, and actually just seems but one analytical layer away from the usual explanation of success in publishing, which is — pure luck.

Mr Frank, a “senior special writer” at The Wall Street Journal, where he writes a weekly column and daily blog called “The Wealth Report”, goes into a riff on economic theory. “In the markets described in economics textbooks, producers expand output until the additional cost of the last unit produced is equal to what the last buyer is willing to pay for it. . . . That description doesn’t apply at all to publishing in the digital age. Once a text has been created, the marginal cost of distributing it to an additional reader is essentially zero. To allocate it efficiently, its price should therefore also be zero. But although the marginal cost of distributing existing text is zero, there are likely to have been substantial fixed costs of producing that text in the first place. And since a commercial publisher’s first goal is to remain solvent, books and other texts cannot be given away.” He then alludes to the economist-style belief that competition among publishers of similar ebooks might/should bring down prices. Even now, fourteen years after the introduction of the Kindle, there are vanishingly few (if any) books from traditional publishers which are available only as ebooks, and thus all this discussion ignores the existence of the vast majority of a publisher’s stock-in-trade, the printed book. Further trouble with this anaylsis (leaving aside one’s dyspeptic views on economic theory’s inability to describe anything not equally theoretical) is that books are not commodities — every book is unique, so price cutting ends up being the business equivalent of self-cutting. Sure, maybe such price-lowering effects might theoretically begin to be seen in genre publishing, the nearest books get to commodity status, and that this is indeed the case might be a large part of the explanation of why self-published ebooks are less expensive than ebooks from traditional publishers.

Mr Frank speculates that books are being pushed towards a subscription pricing model. You get into these sorts of waters by a category mistake over what publishing is. Now one might perfectly logically argue that the genre fiction market is ripe for a switch-over to subscriptions, but beware of overlooking the vast majority of books published: all those non-genre-fiction volumes. Subscription pricing can, and has for years worked in its book club manifestation, but this can really only happen at the trade end of the business. Can you really imagine an individual signing up with say Cambridge University Press to receive a copy of every book they publish in linguistics? Lots of libraries do still do this sort of thing, (we call them standing order plans) but individuals are unlikely to want everything — unless, to complete the circle, everything is of a consistent quality such as say romance novels. Perhaps Mr Frank envisages a subscription of the sort that would allow you to select any six books a year: nice, but in what meaningful way is this better than the status quo where you notice one at a time the six books in your academic subject area which you want when they are announced or reviewed, and respond by going out and buying them individually?

Let us bear in mind the rather important fact that not all publishing is trade publishing, and that not all trade publishing is genre publishing: in all respects except for media attention the branches of publishing Mr Frank focusses on are minority pursuits: many more books are published that are not trade books than those that are. And consider that not all books are written in order to make money for their authors. The poet in the garret may be a cliché, but it’s not a fantasy. Many (most?) books are written for reasons having nothing to do with bank accounts. I dare say the authors of Leucocyte Typing VII had no expectation of earning actual money when they wrote their contributions. Of course every now and then an academic author will find their book selling well, and as academic books tend to be quite expensive, the royalty income they realize may be larger than you might think — after all 10% of a lot is more than 10% of a little — but by and large the academic who goes in for book making in order to become rich is a disappointed academic. The winner-take-all economy may have some application in this market, but winning will be measured in reputation, maybe tenure, but not bucks.