DH: Let's stick with this question. Jennifer wrote in March '05, coming off the Lakoff-Elephant book, challenging progressive authors including Amy Goodman, Michael Moore and Al Franken to publish with indies. She offered that a big advance does not make a bestseller. It should be about how many people buy your books. She connected her critique to the notion of media reform and saving democracy. If this were to happen, if everyone were to publish with independent presses, would we have a better democracy?
AA: I think the problem is that we don't want to cede the terrain of corporate publishing to the Right, and that's, in effect, what we would be doing if we followed this strategy. If we said we're only going to publish radical and progressive voices with smaller independent houses, the effect would be to self-marginalize to a certain extent. We need to contest, in the mainstream, the politics of the mainstream. I welcome the opportunity for a Noam Chomsky to be available in an airport bookstore, I welcome the fact that Michael Moore had such a breakthrough success with a commercial publisher that was able to leverage his books in a way that even the best of the independent publishers couldn't have leveraged.
To be honest, I think there's a thrust to what Nix is saying, which I think is important, which is, I'd love to see a Michael Moore having had that success to then give a book to the New Press, give a book to South End Press, give a book to Seven Stories. And he's in a position where he could do that, so that it shouldn't become an only "either/or" proposition, but I think either side of that equation is wrong. It would be wrong to only publish with commercial publishers; it would be wrong for us to give up the ground of trying to get radical, progressive voices into the mainstream.
Friday, January 27, 2006
Part Two of AlterNet's Progressive Publishing Roundtable has been posted. Here's an excerpt which explores one of the questions I had sleepily addressed the other night (these people are much more awake than I was then):