A Fundamental Misunderstanding of Supply and Demand


Seriously guys, what are we teaching kids these days? More importantly what are they learning?

Because I can’t even (though I Odd pretty well) I’m going to link the post at Mad Genius Club.

And if you don’t want to follow the link, it pertains to this silly git:

Screenshot_2019-11-06 Sci-Fi Fantasy Author Fonda Lee Criticizes Barnes Noble Stocking J R R Tolkien Robert Jordan Books 'W[...]

Sigh.  We won’t get into the idiocy of traditional publishing and their artificial restrictions on market, but still…

This poor woman has everything backward in her head.  It makes it very difficult for me to believe that she can create any kind of sane or believable world. Why? Because she doesn’t understand the laws of supply and demand, which means she doesn’t understand reality.

It is clear that she comes from an academic background, since she thinks that shelves are allotted by order of “importance.”

This is a problem for me as a reader often because I run into a lot of writers like her.  It’s less important in things like romance, though even there it can’t get weird, like when some authors assume that the best thing possible in the Regency would be being a duke AND a doctor. (Head>desk, repeat.) This is because they misunderstand the relative wealth and importance of earning a living in the professions.

But there are a ton of books in mystery that hit the wall. Those that require understanding of how the world worked.  So the economics these writers write are what you expect from exquisitely maleducated people.  They learned sociology and various grievance studies.  So you know, factories are bad places where people are forced to work in terrible conditions — for the 21st century. None of these darlings has the slightest idea what actual conditions were like at farms in the Regency, say — and do not even get health care or counseling, and are probably totally deprived of free ice cream.

I have now walled mysteries, some romances and a few fantasies, because they assume people who build and run factories are “evil exploiters” and villains.  (As opposed to you know  not building anything and letting the peasants starve.)

I’ve walled even more of them when the villain becomes “reformed” and just gives his whole fortune away to people who probably drink it away within a week and, presumably, dies in a gutter shortly thereafter.

In science fiction and fantasy this is even more painful. You’ll have entire worlds getting paid for things, without it making any sense, since there is no galactic agreement on money, no universally agreed upon standard, nothing that makes whatever they hand you worth anything.  We have entire worlds paid for things that make no sense to transport inter-world with the money existent at that time.  You have “exploited” groups, that you can’t figure out why anyone would exploit or what sense it makes.

Then there is the soc jus in these worlds, which often consists of upending historic injustices by creating worse injustices and, oh, yeah, incidentally making it impossible for the economics to function and starving everyone in the world. If you’re going to do that call it Planet Venezuela already, okay?

And don’t get me started on the economics of worlds with magic, where monetizing magic is somehow either wrong or no one ever thought of doing it (because everyone in that world is born mentally impaired.)

Anyway, why am I so iffy about reading a book by an author who made the post above?

She might swing words like there’s no tomorrow. She might be an imaginative creator of characters. She might love puppies, be kind to kiddies and adore helping the poor. She might also know a lot about all sorts of things.

But she’s missing the one and important fact of life on Earth: everything, from plants to animals has to make a living. And everyone’s life is limited.  And when you come to individuals with sentience? We know it too.  We know our time and life, our energy and ability to survive are limited.

Therefore we pay for that which we need or want. And we don’t pay for or buy that which we don’t need or don’t want.

Sure, there are things we would love if we could just know they exist — but the problem with the book not even being on the shelves is the idiocy that paper book sellers have come to. They mishandled the market till it’s now extremely limited — but mostly? What sells is what people want to buy.

So why does Barnes and Noble “give” space to dead guys?  They don’t. They sell it.  Dead guys pay their way by, in turn, selling a bunch to the public.  Barnes and Noble is in enough financial trouble through NOT doing that for a number of years, that it desperately needs that “dead guy money.”

And why is there only one copy of this author’s book? Well, because B & N and traditional publishers still use push? Must be because they don’t think her book will sell and her publishers targeted her for going down hard.  This is bolstered by the fact that she won the World Fantasy Award, an award that for … 20? years since I broke in has been known to have NEGATIVE impact on sales.

It’s all about making a living. It’s all about supply and demand.  Yes, in our field we have to create demand for our books, and it starts with knowing we exist. That is something that traditional publishers don’t help with.  And something that is still hard in indie.

Which is part of the reason classics routinely outsell current authors.

But it is not the only reason. Nor is whining, crying and beating your heels on the ground about it the way to change that.

The dead great shall always be with us. You want to outsell them: write a lot and write well.  Or find another job.

Economics in the end — regardless of what prizes you get for being a good little girl, or how much your professors praised you — is cold equations. Cold equations ALL THE WAY DOWN.

Is it fair? No. Well…. Not fair in the sense that it doesn’t matter how good you are if people don’t know you exist.  But it is fair in the sense that if you write well and a lot and figure out how to advertise you’ll be rewarded.

But fairness has got nothing to do with it. It is the way of the world.

Dead guys outsell you?  Well… judging from the two you mention, they are people whose company is worth it.

So, instead of complaining, learn about supply and demand.  And work to supply something people demand.

346 thoughts on “A Fundamental Misunderstanding of Supply and Demand

  1. They tend to get it backwards, don’cha know: They demand what the supply should be.

    And now — sigh — they’re talking up national rent control.

      1. The important element of rent control is that it typically makes it difficult for landlords to raise the rent. So different real estate values are factored in. The laws don’t say that you can’t charge more than ‘x’ for rent. They say that you either can’t raise a tenant’s rent, or can’t raise it more than ‘Y%’ each year.

        The upshot of this is that people then decide they don’t want to move out of their apartments (because the rent is artificially low), meaning that there’s a shortage of new empty apartments, and people who need a new apartment can’t fimd one.

        Ironically, California voters are smarter than their politicians in this regard. California voters voted down a statewide rent control law last year. But then the politicians in Sacramento passed one just a few months later.

          1. Of course they do. Just because the amount you charge for rent can’t go up, doesn’t mean that the cost of paint, carpet, grout, plumbing parts, water heaters, shingles, HVAC repairs, etc. doesn’t go up….

            And then, let’s talk about property taxes. Funny how the city never freezes what they charge in property taxes when they freeze what a landlord can charge in rent, eh?

            Landlords aren’t dumb, and they don’t rent buildings for a charity; they want to be able to pay the building’s mortgage and taxes, and have something left over for all the work and money and time they put in, as well. They do this for a living.

            So, the obvious thing is, rather than lose money fixing up the place to keep it in the style the renters are accustomed, the landlord lets it go to pot. Which, trust me, buildings do quickly, especially when you have renters with an entitlement attitude who feel the landlord is their slave, and they’re owed whatever they want without having to pony up anything more for it.

            And then the landlords have to move the renters out, so they can renovate the building. At which point they can charge market rent to new tenants.

            1. And then there are the workarounds. Like for instance you don’t raise the rent, but charge for the key. “Keying fees” were a big thing in Portugal when rent was controlled.

              1. The other thing about rent control is that it doesn’t magically create more housing. But since the price is low, you have a lot of people who want the housing, and there are long waits for vacancies and long search times. And that compounds as people realize that they daren’t leave their old place till they have a new one, because they may be in a motel, on a friend’s couch, or in the street; so vacancies are even fewer.

                And of course that means that landlords don’t have to offer much to get tenants, and even less to get tenants to stay. Maybe the place is falling apart and you need a month to get repairs, but do you dare move out?

                And there there’s decline in new construction, conversion of old rentals to condos. . . . If anything, rent control’s long term effect is to destroy housing. And California has too little housing already.

                1. There was a story recently about a California developer who wanted to turn an empty lot in Silicon Valley into housing. He spent several years and millions of dollars jumping through hoops, only to have it voted down at the last minute, because some council member didn’t like it.

                  A waste of time and money and no new housing. Insanity.

                  1. A waste of time and money

                    If only it were just a waste — it is also a tortured corpse nailed to the city gate as warning to anyone else contemplating such transgressions.

            2. People tend to not appreciate the work undertaken by even a mediocre landlord. Instead of putting their spare cash into “safe” investments like stocks or bonds they take on the challenge of providing housing to humans. Humans who can be remarkably demanding about the landlord spending Christmas Day unclogging the toilets after little Susie flushed Johnny’s new sweater down one — even if they’ve still not paid December’s rent. They laugh at the dog wiping his butt on the hall carpet and leave trash piled up around the kitchen door even though the dumpster’s not five paces away.

              Sure, they make a profit (which is smaller than they’d hope and gnawed on by the taxman) eventually, provided they hold on long enough and are fortunate enough no tenant burns the building down or leaves the bathroom taps running and flooding five floors. They get to enjoy the pleasures of a huge mortgage which expects monthly payments whether or not your tenants pay their rent on time but that is compensated by the army of city investigators who come calling, sure they’re going to catch you violating any of numerous city codes. All in hope you’ll eventually sell the place and realize some capital gain commensurate with the opportunity cost of the investment and comparable to the inflationary sapping of the dollar’s strength.

      2. As best I can tell, they have no idea how different shopping is in different areas of the same city, much less of the same state*, and don’t get them started on the difference between REGIONS.

        *I mean easy states, like Washington, not ones like California or Texas.

        1. And why should they care? You won’t have transportation to visit those areas, peasant; just shop in your own neighborhood where we don’t have to see you……

      3. It makes a great deal of sense if you understand that ‘rent control’ is a coded phrase for ‘cheap luxury apartments in the best neighborhoods for myself and my circle, and I don’t care who suffers to make that happen.’

        It’s despicable, but it makes sense.

      4. Landlords stop maintaining rent controlled buildings.

        Landlords can’t afford to maintain rent controlled buildings. Rent control leaves them on the hairy edge of losing money on their investment.

        I was surprised to read an article in Bloomberg which started off by blaming outrageous housing costs in California on bad government.

        “Wait — Bloomberg got something right? How can this be?”

        The next paragraph went on to fix the blame specifically on Proposition 13, which placed limits on how fast the government can raise your property tax. It’s UNFAIR (WAAAAHH!) that people buying houses today are paying more property tax on a higher basis price than people who’ve owned their houses for 20 years or more.

        Mind you, it’s not unfair the government is taking so much from the recent buyers, it’s unfair they’re NOT taking as much from the long-term owners.

        Proposition 13 was passed by a huge majority, because retirees were being literally taxed out of their homes by out-of-control property tax increases. The politicians have been trying to eliminate it ever since.
        Leo Bloom: “Well, if we assume you’re a dishonest person—“
        Max Bialystock: “Assume, assume!”

        1. Oregon’s equivalent proposition 13, called Measure 5, puts the burden on NEW builds. When a home is sold in Oregon, the basis does not change to the sold price. You can add value on an existing home by adding to it, but the value can only go up based on the basis for the addition. Neighbor recently expanded out and up. Sure put their basis way high, but relatively lower than a new build. Not sure what happens if a home burns, is rebuilt, what the state is restricted to.

          We really have multiple reasons we are having difficulty relocating to our ideal single story home (building new): Actual act of moving (cost & “oh, now, gotta pack and move”), location (we know where we DON’T want to be), and property tax. It is about a push for what we want VS what we’d sell for including extra costs, but the difference in taxes would be 3 or 4 times, current ($1900/year). Yet, we could reconfigure the house, and not affect the taxes; OTOH we’d have to move everything twice (out then back in …). As far as location … well it isn’t “Eugene”, yet, so okay.

          Our home for tax purposes is valued at $180 (which is still *2.5x what we paid) VS about $280k estimated retail (which is low**).

          * based on tax value Measure 5 went back to for basis, plus allowable increase per year toward “market value”. Funny how downturns didn’t make a difference in basis (because market value stayed higher than tax basis).

          ** Because tax assessor has the incorrect square footage. They never put into the system, the additional square footage added by the prior owners. We have the copies of the permits, and the addition plans the correct jurisdiction then, and now, have. TPTB can’t claim illegal build. Plus the addition isn’t exactly hidden from that every so many years drive by check they are suppose to do.

        1. Oh. Oh. Oh. I know!!!! Waves hand …

          Brilliant idea!!!! Let’s set rents for everywhere based on say LA/NY medium or even lowest rents? No, impractical?

          Hmmmm. Waves hand … Okay, then how about medium for largest city of state? That should be practical, doable, right?????

          FWIW. Even Eugene or Corvallis rental markets would be tickled pink to be able to charge Portland rental rates. They are bad enough as they are due to demand, lack of supply, in a typical college towns. Eugene rents still aren’t as high as Portland rents. Corvallis rents aren’t near as high as Eugene.

          Niece is renting a studio apartment in Portland (Orregon). She pays $1500/month, plus utilities (although it does come with parking spot). She is trading rent for a 10 minute commute. VS 2 to 3 hours commute and free rent (living at home).

    1. It’s like this scene from an “old” cartoon (“Hey Arnold!” I think? Maybe?) where the Ice Cream Man has raised his prices due to a scorching heat wave.

      ICM: “It’s called ‘supply and demand,’ kid. Ever heard of it?”

      Kid: “Yeah! I have! And I DEMAND that you SUPPLY me with ice cream RIGHT NOW!!!!”

      As I recall, the show wasn’t supposed to be edutainment, not was the kid portrayed as being in the right, but it looks like certain maroons and ignoranimuses took it that way.

      1. In the Heights has the perfect answer to that one:
        “It’s hotter than the islands are today
        And Mister Softee’s truck has broken down
        And here come all his customers my way
        I told you, I run this town!

        Piragua, piragua
        One-twenty-five, piragua!
        Piragua, piragua
        Two-twenty-five, piragua!
        New block of ice, hike up the price
        Lai lo le lo lai, lai lo le lo lai
        Blackouts are nice, blackouts are nice
        Lo le lo lai
        Keep scraping by

        (Piragua is basically snow cones.)

      2. I remember an episode of the animated Aladdin series where Iago the parrot complained that if he had the powers of the Genie, he’d do more good. So they tried it. Iago tried to fix poverty by giving everyone all the gold and jewels they could want — and so a loaf of bread cost a basket of rubies. He tried to fix the terrible farming by making it rain — and so the streets flood and buildings collapsed because they weren’t designed to handle rain.

        Sad that a Disney Afternoon cartoon had a better grasp of economics than our college educated (m)asses.

        1. There is a classic Uncle Scrooge with just that lesson. His money vault explodes while he is tending his garden. Every one gathers up the money and quits working. Huey, Dewey, and Louie ask Uncle Scrooge why he is still gardening instead of trying to get the money back.

          He tells them to just wait and it will.

          When no one else is farming he charges $20/carrot and so on. Next thing you know, everyone is back to their old jobs and Uncle Scrooge, the only one who didn’t confuse money with wealth, once again the richest duck in the world.

      1. That’s just because you’re opposed to cruelty to facts, you hater!

        (Sorry, sense of black humor kicking in– when multiple states are banning PREVENTING baby pigs from being crushed or eaten by their mothers, or chickens from being pecked to death, in the name of opposing cruelty to animals, it is either laugh or cry. Well, or hit things, and I’m out of range.)

        1. “banning PREVENTING baby pigs from being crushed or eaten by their mothers, or chickens from being pecked to death”

          Why does that seem to go hand in hand with the pro-abortion crowd?

        2. I think the targets are things like crush videos (which I just don’t get…and I mean, I have some out there thoughts, but *shudder*).

          And I don’t call that animal cruelty, although it is, but human depravity.

              1. Human Stupidity seems to be like a gas. It expands to fill the space available(and perhaps a bit more)

            1. The same people who insist that ALL dogs, regardless of breed, should be brought inside all winter. Or that dogs are never allowed to be on a chain outside, regardless of chain length.

              1. Idiots, in other words.

                (You’d think folks would know huskies LIKE the snow, and that a dog running around like an insane creature isn’t freezign, but noooooo)

      2. I’m all for handling animal cruelty at the jury level by voting to acquit on the “he needed beaten'” defense of people who take direct action against people who torture animals.

        The girl is dealing with a student who is a classic example of the results of not letting the “he needed beaten” happen in JHS.

      3. How about a national cruelty to antifa act, requiring any antifa thug encountered to be hit with a blunt object?

    2. Let’s do it on a national scale! Median rent in the United States (from a quick online search) comes to around $1 per square foot. So let’s say that no one can charge more than $1.25 per square foot for rental housing anywhere. That will produce enormously long lines in San Jose (currently around $2.88 per square foot) and none at all for most rural areas, where it will be comfortably above actual rental rates.

      Why should people in New York and San Francisco have to pay more for housing than people in Albuquerque? It’s obviously unfair!

      1. A friend is an engineer in in Memphis. He works for a large airline. The company sent him to California to manage an upgrade at a site there. Since it would take six months or so, they rented an apartment instead of putting him in a hotel.

        The apartment was near Presidio…

        He made a *very* nice salary… for Memphis. But as he told me in a rather bemused phone call, the rent on that apartment was more than his gross monthly salary.

        Conversely, he spent another six months in a small town in England on company business; not only was the rent on a house there much less than his apartment in Memphis, but figuring what things cost (as opposed to official currency exchange) he made more than twice what his English peers did.

      2. Yes, but once locked in they will never allow change. The insidious march of inflation will make the number ridiculous faster than they can imagine. (Though they have little imagination it is true.)

    3. No fair complaining about the undue burden of having to compete with the works of dead authors while using technologies created by dead inventors. Go squat in your cave and impress us by drawing on the walls with mud for a living, with marketing entirely by grunt-of-mouth (no fair cheating by using language. After all, you didn’t build that!). Either we’re a time-binding species or we’re not.

      1. Rent control, rent assistance, Section 8, and other programs are catnip to the tyrants.

        Besides all the official and unofficial powers they wield, they can turn people out of their homes onto the street if they don’t toe the line. Such a deal!

        When they give themselves the power to control the contract between landlord and tenant, they become the arbiters of who lives where and for how much.

    4. Somehow, talk about a national rent control had missed me (probably because I’ve been trying to NOT be angry all the time). So, I did a quick web search, already guessing what I would find. Yep, just like I figured, AOC’s adorable little face pops up in my search engine. How can one person be so wrong about such a great many things?

            1. More like BIBO: Bullshit In, Bullshit Out

              Stupid In, Stupid Out?
              Stupidity got us into this mess; why can’t it get us out of it?

  2. “Seriously guys, what are we teaching kids these days? More importantly what are they learning?”

    Socialism is good. Capitalism is bad. America is evil. The environment is more important than people. Worries about illegal immigration, or Islamic terror, or any of a number of other concerns, are racist. White privilege. Math and science are racists and sexist. And the world will end in 11 years unless we destroy Western civilization. I think that about sums it up.

    (Excuse me, I need to go puke.)

  3. How near the surface is the name “Anthony Horowitz” re: mysteries you have thrown at the wall? I’d say his greatest sin in his Sherlockian pastiches is the blatant literary patricide in Moriarty, but I get the distinct feeling that the anti-industrial bug on his shoulder is the main reason he did that, too.

  4. I think it’s all a manifestation of the Victim Mentality. Whatever goes wrong isn’t Your Fault – oh, no. It’s all the fault of Evil Forces. And You are utterly helpless against them.

    I’ll grant that there are biases. Luck plays a role. People who have the connections you don’t. People who hate your guts simply for living. But whining about it won’t change a damned thing.

    No. You want to win? Unleash hard work, creativity, and, yes, a dollop of anger. Find what YOU can do well, and DO it. Become a master. Find ways to short-circuit the opposition. Wait out the ones you can’t short-circuit. Dream of tap-dancing on your enemies’ skulls.

    As Admiral Tom Hayward said, in the depths of the 1970s’ miasma, “I’m sick and tired of hearing about ‘the threat’. Let US be the threat! I want to hear about Admiral Gorshkov losing sleep nights about OUR threat to HIS navy.”

    Take the initiative. Fight your fight, in YOUR way. And win.

    1. In the runup to Desert Storm (One…) there was a great line: “We do not want our enemy to wonder when something certain will happen. We want the enemy to wonder, ‘what happened?’!”

    2. ‘The Navy has no place for good losers! The Navy needs tough sons of bitches who can go out there and WIN!’ – Jonas Ingram

      The rest of life is no different from the Navy.

      1. And to quote George Patton (a local son his family home is just 2-3 towns over) , “No dumb bastard ever won a war by going out and dying for his country. He won it by making some other dumb bastard die for his country.” I think Gen Patton and Admiral Ingram learned at the foot of the same teacher.

    3. Flip side, if you’re successful, it “just happens” because you’re so wonderful you deserve it.

      It’s certainly not the result of hard work…

  5. They’re afraid they can’t complete with authors who died before they got into the field. They’re even more afraid of what it says about their own work.

  6. Alright, I do not like nor enjoy Tolkien. He wrote movie descriptive scenes in book form, IMO. That said, if I were running a book store? The MARKET wants Tolkien.. and I want money. Having a significant amount of precious shelf space give to Tolkien makes business sense, my personal feelings on his writing be damned. The market also generally does NOT want today’s Hugo and Nebula winners – it’d be to stupid waste more than, er, token space on such. Presuming the shop was not beholden to Overload Interests (See: B&N for the last many long, painful years) there’d be Baen, and ideally, stuff that was truly Indie… [If you just mused that that sounds like a FANTASTIC book store you wish you had around… ponder that *ox* out-thought the ‘mainstream’… that not say good things about mainstream.] Mind, I have not even mention bringing in local interest works, or local writers.. both of which scream “profit possibility” to me. Even it doesn’t make me a SINGLE sale *TODAY*… there is this ‘mindshare’ thing.

    To swap venues… Jack Benny did NOT give himself the best lines. Those went to the rest of his cast – though he was the one to respond to any zinger. Reasoning? Roughly: “I don’t need the audience to laugh at my stuff. I just need to them to laugh, and remember my show is funny. That way they tune in again.” Will I listen to old Jack Benny shows? Yep! And maybe Dennis Day has the best line(s)… but the show is funny.

    Someone with fond memories of the bookstore is apt to go look there when desiring a book. Next week’s or next month’s sales might get a boost. But if p*** them off? They’re p***-ed off FOREVER. And they tell their friends. And today, with the net, plenty more.

    1. I prefer Dennis Day’s “mother”, from what little I’ve listened to. 😀

      And George Burns, etc. rewrote their material one they realized Gracie Allen was getting more laughs for her straight lines than he was for the joke. 🙂

    2. THE LORD OF THE RINGS is an Eddic saga written in upper class Edwardian English. It is stunning, if you can cope with it at all, but it isn’t an easy read, and I bet an awful lot of the people who bought the book because of the films bogged down in it and didn’t finish.

      1. Dumas dad is the guy who wrote movie descriptions. Look at the beginning of The Three Musketeers. Movies copied him and Dickens, and most writers of the next couple of generations did, too.

        The Lord of the Rings is actually written in a way that draws from a lot of different genres, including mystery and horror. Tolkien was not a snob about his aesthetic sense!

        But it is hard for me to judge, because I read it pretty young.

        1. I don’t remember where I read this explanation of why older books — before about the mid-1800s — had such long, detailed descriptions of settings. (It might have been this blog.) Before then, it was unlikely that the reader had ever been in whatever exotic setting the story took place in. And before photography, that means the setting needed a long, detailed description.

      2. That’s odd…I found it quite an easy read. Engrossing. Once the hobbits get to Bree, that is.

        1. I found it fairly easy, too. But I had already read Kipling and Twain, and had accustomed myself to different language rhythms.

          It’s a little like black and white or silent film. People who come to it late have a harder time.

      3. I was loaned The Hobbit as a way to try to ease me into things. Slogged through it and had quite enough of that. Went back to the RCA CDP1802 COSMAC manual. It clearer, and (of course) shorter.

        1. HMM Orvan I think I’ll leave you the COSMAC manual. and keep The Hobbit. A Chacun son gout…Perhaps you could tempt me with a Tops-20 manual though.

            1. Thank you Sir that brings back memories. Though with a 1990 copyright, the 20/10 line is long dead (20/80 having been cancelled the year I joined DEC). I’m trying to think, but I can’t remember if the 20/60 that was for the languages group was still in the machine room at the Spitbrook road DEC (ZK2-3 in DECese) in 1990.

              Every once and I while I think about bringing up SIMH on my Pi running Tops-20, but no one ever got the right network drivers working for Tops-20 7.0 so you have to go back to 4.0 and a different emulator as I think SIMH’s emulated hardware is to late for the older OS. Not having done much as a wheel and never having done a full up install manuals would be absolutely required.

      4. I read all four books in one maniac binge weekend. I have heard from many others who could likewise could not put down. Like Ursula LeGuin, who got out only Fellowship from the library one day and so was on the steps when the library opened the next.

      5. Bored of the Rings said all that needs saying about the Ring saga, and does it in 150 pages.

    3. > I do not like nor enjoy Tolkien

      Before the concentrated beams of hatred and offense from the Tolkeinites roast you to a crisp, I’d like to say that I’ve enjoyed your posts and I’ll be sorry you’re gone…

      – TRX (can make vaguely approving comments about The Hobbit if pressed)

  7. Speaking of awards having negative sales impacts, has that happened with the Hugo yet? (Working on the rash assumption that honest sales numbers are available…)

    1. Well, there must be a sales spike. Libraries buy up the award winners and keep them in stock. And the libraries also get copies that members of the public bought in their donation bins a few months later.

      As a librarian, I’d know.

      1. Some libraries.

        My local one noticed that nobody read the ones they bought, so they stopped buying award winners, and now they either order when someone asks for something specific, or they take donations.

        Reminds me, I need to hit Halfprice Books.

    2. NKJ?

      I noticed the mention above and thought to myself “if that BN has Fifth Season out its because they have to”. I got a copy determined tp read it and find out what the hubbub is. Haven’t walled it yet (love that term, its so perfect) but can’t get myself past page 50.

  8. WRT death rates, one thing that hit me the hardest when I started on medieval history seriously was the mid-life mortality. We’re accustomed to dying being something old people do. We understand there was once a time when dying was something infants did, too.

    But the idea of people dying, and not of battle wounds, in their 30s and 40s? That’s a lot harder to swallow. But it was so.

    1. In one of the 1632 series books (I forget which) one down-timer is talking with another and wonders why, if considers the up-timers to be nearly insane, why he supports them so. Paraphrasing: “For all their seeming insanity, the children LIVE. I’ll forgive them every insanity for that boon.”

      1. Something I hadn’t quite put together until I read those books was the constant risk of loss of institutional knowledge and how that slowed down innovation until widespread literacy because a thing. It’s one of the later books where an infectious disease comes to town, killing all the people who understand how to use the radio within days — and the locals didn’t quarantine the town because “it wasn’t plague.”

        Likewise, one of the most fascinating things in The Great Courses Plus series on the Black Death was how the Great Mortality set up the conditions for the Protestant Reformation a century and a half later by wiping out the institutional knowledge and selecting for clergy who didn’t care about the mission of God so much as controlling all that new wealth and living to enjoy it.

          1. That’s the course. The prof can be a little too conversational for my taste, and the fact that her background is in literature, not epidemiology, is evident in the lectures about the science of Y. pestis, but overall it’s one I like. (Enjoy doesn’t seem quite the right word.)

        1. Er… actually, it was pretty common for clergy and religious who stayed helping during the Plague to survive the Plague. Good genes and such, but also a lot of cleanliness being next to godliness.

          Dislocation of society and a lot of general unhappiness paired with general prosperity and technology rise, really. There was a pretty good bunch of clergy around, compared to many other times in Europe, and a lot of the people were happy with the state of religion. But there was also a very restless minority wanting change, and that was what did it.

          Eamon Duffy has some very good books about the true state of religion and the clergy in England, just before Henry VIII did his thing.

          And he followed up a lot of similar studies by various people, among whom the most entertaining was William Cobbett, a Loyalist who moved from NY to England and ended up a radical libertarian of a fun sort. His book, A History of the Protestant Reformation, basically theorizes that it was all about stealing land and money from the charitable organizations founded by the people’s faith, and centralizing land, money, schooling, and power under kings, bureaucrats, and their cronies. (Cobbett was a big influence on Chesterton.)

          1. I’ll grant that that the effect on the Church not my area of expertise (my undergrad history thesis was on a female surgeon in 1572 York), but my understanding is that the clergy were hit hard. The close quarters of the monasteries meant that the majority of the brothers in one died at once. The higher ecclesiastical offices were in cities, which suffered 50-70% mortality, and the number of empty benefices skyrocketed during the plague years. We have contemporary accounts of people complaining about clergy retreating and refusing to perform last rites — the pope in Avignon spent his days in one room with two blazing fires (which did actually work to keep rats and their fleas away). (Of course, the whole Avignon and anti-pope problem going on at the same time was not helping the Church’s prestige.)

            Moreover, we have complaints of illiterate and uneducated clergy that continued down through the Council of Trent, with a very lengthy list of all the scandals that were happening. My personal favorite is the priest whose Latin was so bad he performed his blessings “in nomine patri, et filia, et spiritus sancti,” that is, in the name of the Father, the Daughter, and the Holy Spirit.”

            1. Everybody died a lot, though. Same as in the Yellow Plague. Benedictine monasteries without cells, or among novices, had it worse

              You have a monastery where guys sleep in dormitory rooms of twenty or thirty, and one guy starts coughing. Everybody is going to get whatever it is.

              You have cells, people only see each other at meals or at church or at work. They start feeling sick, they go to the infirmary.

              But you still are cooped up with sick people, more than in a town or a private house.

              But the Yellow Plague led to the Anglo-Saxon “renaissance”, with guys like Bede who were just one of the few who survived (he was a young kid). So it cannot just be “plague killed off the serious good people and only the bad survived”, or “plague survivors are more.likely to be selfish”.

              Of course, all this is just my opinion too! And I love those Great Courses history things. Found out about the newly appreciated scope of the Dublin slave trade from The Vikings, and there are a bunch of good ones I have enjoyed.

              1. I always felt sorry for that priest guy. I mean, essentially he got in trouble for a schwa. (Unless he really was trying to say “daughter.”) There was a lot of regional difference in pronunciation; that was just one that made a difference in meaning.w

                1. I don’t think he was trying to say “daughter”; just that his Latin education was so poor that he was merely repeating what he had heard as an incantation without any understanding of what he was saying, the way that Hindus recite the Rigveda without understanding the Sanskrit. That level of ignorance becomes a real problem when the Bible, the liturgy, and the papal instructions are all in a language that the priest doesn’t understand, and he’s the one responsible for educating his parishioners.

                  One of my favorite “what ifs” in history is what if Martin V had allowed the Council of Constance (1414-1418) to continue its reforms of the church instead of dissolving it to defend papal sovereignty. There had been heretics and dissenters, but without the widespread abuses (again, chronicled by the Council of Trent) that galvanized religious figures like Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli and gave cover for political figures like Frederick III of Saxony to support them against the papacy, what would the Reformation look like, if it happened at all?

    2. The first use of penicillin to treat sepsis was for a guy who cut himself shaving. And it worked—until they ran out, and he died.

      And on that note, how often do you freak out about tetanus when your kid comes home with a scraped knee?

      1. I recall there was someone (cryptographer?) in Britain who early in WWII dies because of the infecting from a scratch from his roses. It’s amazing the stuff we now consider trivial, that not that long ago was at least potentially fatal. It was some time before I truly realized why grandma was concerned about cold and pneumonia… in her youth, it WAS often* fatal. The Great Flu was NOT history, it was something she witnessed – and, obviously, survived.

        * Even one can discount everything else Robert Becker said in The Body Electric his recall of the pre/post penicillin is worthwhile. Before the antibiotic, the temperature chart told a story… and was at the foor of the bed so the patient could not see it and know the story. One way the chart went, the patient would live. The other way, the patient would die. And there was NOTHING that turn ‘die’ into ‘live’ save a miracle. Then, in 1946 (in the USA) penicillin became available for civilian use. Not long after, entire pneumonia wards closed – no longer needed. Damn right I want me some of that there Western Medicine.

        1. Calvin Coolidge, Jr. died of an infected blister while his father was President, 4 years before the discovery of penicillin.

          I probably would have died 4 years ago if it wasn’t for antibiotics, they had me in the hospital on a IV drip of Vancomycin for my cellulitis which probably would have gone septic otherwise.

          1. Not to mention modern surgery would pretty much not exist without antibiotics. The risk of post-op infection is too high to justify the majority of surgeries without them.

          2. twice modern tech likely saved me . . . though the first time probably saved me from “just” an amputation, though you still never knew. They pumped a liter of saline with a large dosage of antibiotic into a rather largebore needle (maybe 15 minutes of pumping) after I got bitten by a cat and my hand was infected.
            The second was gastroenteritis . . . hard to amputate your guts.

      2. And on that note, how often do you freak out about tetanus when your kid comes home with a scraped knee?

        Scraped knee, hell, my dad stepped on a rusted barn yard nail and kept working. (Went inside, rinsed it out, filled it with tribac and got the job done. They home treated the thing, since it didn’t show any signs of infection.)

        I grew up stepping on rusted nails and stuff, and my folks explained what “lockjaw” had been like.

        I’m one of those folks who’s gotten her shot every single pregnancy, too. The kids have some kind of protection until they’re old enough to be vaccinated.

  9. Witling girl Fonda Lee was nominated for a Nebula. Tells you everything you need to know, right there.

    Expanding on my trashing of her lack of wit from MGC comments, she’s pining for the Good Old Days when little bookstores were in funny little spaces around fashionable shopping districts. Mom and Pop ran the store, and they could recommend odd things you’d like.

    Well, that model of retail is deader than the dinosaurs. It was killed by the publishers, the distributors and the government. The twin evils of taxation and centralization.

    The third contributory evil was the cost of retail space brought on by rising real-estate prices and rising land taxes. People like to blame Amazon, but the real thing that’s destroying retail is $100/sqft rents. Every square foot of your store space has to move $100 worth of after-tax -profit- just to pay the rent. Most places, books can’t earn that money because the margins are too low and the traffic isn’t high enough. If things keep going this way, the publishers are going to be reduced to spinner racks in grocery stores like the Actual Old Days. Old timers will remember those spinner racks with Harlequin Romances and mysteries in them and one little pocket with an SF.

    But since grocery stores and 7/11s are going to be turning into very large zero employee vending machines in the next ten years, even the lowly spinner rack is going to vanish.

    1. I have fond memories of those spinner racks… it was in one of them that I discovered Hornblower, late at night somewhere in West Texas, desperately searching the single rack in the store for something to read. OK, “I’ll buy anything in the rack that doesn’t have a dead body, a pool of blood, or a naked woman on the cover,” isn’t a great selection algorithm, but buying Beat to Quarters was like winning the lottery (and just about as improbable considering the rest of the stock).

      1. I too have fond memories of spinner racks. Back in olden days, real bookstores did not stock paperbacks. The spinner rack at the local drug store got all the new Ace Doubles. The bookstore actually stocked stf hardcovers, but at several multiples the prices of a paperback. For a high school kid on a budget, the spinner rack was a no-brainer.

      2. I found Andre Norton’s Witch World on spinners.

        If we extend to grocery stores, which had spinners and flat walls of book we can add Jack Chalker, The Horseclans, Anne McCaffery that wasn’t Pern, LeGuin (at least her book of literary criticism which was actually worth reading more often than not and has been a key piece of evidence against the “no one ever heard of Dunsany” crowd), Philip Jose Farmer, and probably plenty more I’m drawing a blank on.

          1. Yes, was drawing a blank on the name. I but it at a Buttrey’s Supermarket circa 1980. Parts of it have stayed with me to today. When I got serious about writing I realized I’d lost my copy and put a lot of effort into replacing it.

      3. Yeah, that sounds like a negative algorithm. That said, we might have made a good team just handing each other what we didn’t want.

      4. Beat to Quarters?

        I can speculate what the spinner stocker might have thought it was about, but maybe it was the sole nod to literary quality to prevent lightning strikes.

      5. Spinner racks were getting rare in Porto when I started hitting the bookstores, on my way to high school. They existed, but most of the books weren’t sf/f.
        Then we went on vacation to Algarve when I was 14. And there, in the postcard shop was a spinner rack stocked with sf/f books that were YEARS out of print elsewhere.
        I think I bought the rack clean over that month, including Stranger, Glory Road and a LOT of Pol Anderson. POSSIBLY also The Left Hand of Darkness.

    2. In Silly Valley, I spent a good chunk of money at a few independent bookstores, but by shortly after Y2K, all three of them were gone. (B&N did the best one in, while the others lost their venues to development.)

      Klamath Falls had a Waldenbooks in a mall, which store closed when the owner decided that two stores was one too many to have, then later a Borders. One Christian bookstore folded because reasons, while the one run by Messianic Jews (AKA Jews for Jesus) is still going.

      What has survived are the book sections in various stores. Yeah, Fred Meyer (Kroger) has a so-so selection (how many ways can one do Star Trek/Star Wars and Strong Womyn Fantasy before falling into irrelevance?). There’s another store; kind of a condo arrangement, and the bookseller therein sells local history/local interest books. Not too hard to sell coffeetable books on Crater Lake to the tourist trade, and logging/lumber mill history and Modoc wars books to the locals.

      Alas, the used bookstore folded; it had a decent (but hard to use without image search) bird identification book.

      1. Back in the late 70s/early 80s, when I was in high school, Klamath Falls did have an independent bookstore along its downtown Main street. It was called Treeland Books. The store had a pretty wide selection of books, from genre fiction to the current best-sellers, to match a wide variety of reading tastes. (They also carried role-playing books — my Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books came from there, and they still have the Treeland bookplates inside the front cover.) I don’t know when the proprietor gave up– I left for college and didn’t come back.
        But that was the kind of bookstore that most people lament about losing from the days of yore.

        1. No longer there in 2003. Shaw’s Stationary on Main had local books, but they folded their business into that condominium store on Washburn (the old Tower Drug store site). Rents in downtown got crazy and chased a lot of businesses out. Some relocated.

          A search on Treeland Books turns up empty, so they must have folded before the ‘net got popular.

    3. But since grocery stores and 7/11s are going to be turning into very large zero employee vending machines in the next ten years, even the lowly spinner rack is going to vanish.

      I have wondered why B&N, and before them Borders, isn’t arranging POD book centers. You come in, browse the single copies of everything plus deluxe bound ones you can’t POD, read the store copy with a cup of coffee while you wait, and leave with a newly printed book.

      Hell, the publishers should be pushing that. Get out of all the physical business and just edit and supply accounts to bookstores.

      1. “I have wondered why B&N, and before them Borders, isn’t arranging POD book centers.”

        I’ve been wondering why Starbucks doesn’t have them. I will take a wild guess and say 1) licensing, 2) licensing and 3) no easy plug-and-play print-on-demand printer tech packages are available.

        Legal screws everything up.

        1. Plug and play is CHEAP and easy. about 15k dollars for a machine.
          I’d guess it’s a) legal. b) not sure if paper bricks will sell that well, since everyone carries a reader of some sort around.

          1. Also, time. One thing the ebook revolution has truly underscored is how many people will pick up a book that’s just a click away. If POD takes 10, 15 minutes… it can be fun to watch the assembling the book show the first time, but after that, why would I wait for 10 minutes or more in a store after I got my coffee and am ready to do other things?

          2. Right the window for POD got missed mostly because I suspect the Printing folks didn’t want the model to change (same reason the hate ebooks). Now that readers (including on peoples phones) are ubiquitous there’s little point to POD other than for the atavistic pleasure of holding a book. I am kind of surprised it never caught on for large print though. That’s a small but healthy market and tailor made for print on demand (could even choose the font and size). At some level the publishers seem to be afraid of making money as that is so populist and gauche.

            1. Because kindle paperwhite are actually better for aging eyes that big print. I suspect that market is hurting more than the rest of paper.
              Dan was at the point he literally couldn’t read by 45, not for any sustained time. Kindle paperwhite gave him books back.

              1. I know doctors are a big expense but it might be worth a decent ophthalmologist for both of you. If I remember right y ou especially having been fed prednisone lots. I was on a treatment that used high dose prednisone, my ophthalmologist could actually see thickening and obscuring of my cataract over the ~5 months . And low light vision and near reading got real hard until I had one of my cataracts done. Other one isn’t there quite yet.
                Because they can also correct for astigmatism I now have 20/20 vision in the fixed eye. I will note that the replacement did lead to the weirdest medical interaction I’ve ever had. First they have to get the orientation of the new lens right. To do this the doc takes out a special felt tip pen and marks the surface of the eyeball with some indications. Second during the process of replacing the lens your vision system has to interpret all sorts of things that are out of focus or do strange things to the light until the new lens is properly emplaced. This looked from the receiving end for all the world like the light show at the end of 2001 on the way to the star child, and lasted almost as long.

      2. In their last years, Borders was trying something like that.

        I think it’s too late. Most books can be read well on tablets, especially the e-ink tablets…the ones that really need paper format, like art books, probably wouldn’t work very well with a print-on-demand model.

    4. > $100/sqft rents

      That basic problem has been a “thing” locally since the late 20th century. A landlord – most often a new purchaser – jacks the rent up, probably to help pay his own debt for the acquisition… the tenant moves out, and the property sits empty forever, because somehow it’s to the landlord’s advantage that the location remain vacant rather than making *some* money.

      At any given time, at least 25% of the storefronts or commercial properties in my area are vacant. Used to be more, but some of them had become so decrepit from decades of unuse that the city bulldozed them to the ground.

      1. *waves hand* I know this one!

        Because I noticed that El Paso had a TON of weird little stores and almost none of the strip malls had more than one or two empties unless there were obvious reasons.

        Short version, various tax and loss rules that make it so that claiming a loss of $100/sqft actually saves you money over only charging $25/sqft, or whatever.

        Kind of like a doctor owning a play ranch so that he can claim the loss on his taxes.

        1. Ah, I’ve been looking for that. Tax rules must be different in Canada, business rental space is idiotically expensive in the 905 area code, Golden Horseshoe area, and there are very few vacancies. Meaning they don’t build retail space, basically. There’s new space built to serve new subdivisions, but otherwise not.

          Arizona on the other hand, I know plenty of stores that used to be Blockbuster Video that still aren’t rented. It boggles the mind, but there they sit.

          1. I drove from Little Rock to Tampa a few years ago. I counted nine identifiable used-to-be-Walmart stores along the route, which was primarily freeway.

            After a bit over 20 years, the former Walmart store in my town is now a flea market. Other than that, it has been empty. It has been kept up, occasionally painted, streetlights lit on in the parking lot, nobody home.

  10. I write for Steve Jackson Games. At this point I have something like two dozen books available from them. That is, I’m making money from what is for most people a hobby. (Not enough money to live on, but enough to improve my standard of living a bit.) How does that work? I have to write material that is good enough and useful enough so that people who can get huge amounts of online material for free will pay to get mine. That’s the basic cold equation of all the arts: They’re so enjoyable that people will do them for free, or even pay to do them, so to make money you have to be better than the unpaid competition.

    And, of course, before submitting any proposals, I consult with the line editor about which of my ideas for books are likely to do well in their particular market. If I were writing for self-publication, I would do my own market research instead.

      1. I’m glad to find a compatriot here. Yes, I’ve been writing for them for 20 years, starting with contributions to Who’s Who (my first one was Tycho Brahe).

        1. I have been away from GURPS for years after being an early adopter. The combo of Dungeon Fantasy and the Psi-Wars blogs got me to dig out my 4e books that had gathered dust since release.

          I did love “All Star Jam”. I wish it had caught on as a series.

          1. I run more GURPS than any two other RPGs. It doesn’t suit everything I want to do, but its basic design fits my aesthetic sense fairly well. I like “imaginary gardens with real toads in them” (as Marianne Moore put it) and GURPS is the perfect game for writing up a real toad.

            1. I was introduced to GURPS by spousal unit, who was one of the original blindtesters, and for may years it was game of choice in our house. We spent a number of years as MIBs on the East Coast as well, but neither of us liked 4e and we sort of drifted away from the system.

              3e remains my preferred system for character creation, I love the flexibility, but since he usually GMs (I’m lazy and not a good pantser, which he is), we play what he wants to run. These days it is usually Pathfinder, although we just got Savage Worlds due to the MHI stuff being released, so we will see.

              None of this is relevant except to say I have a *lot* of your stuff on my shelf and particularly love Supers.

    1. Ok that’s cool. I wasted much of my youth playing Metagaming games (when Not playing SPI or Avalon Hill ones) , of which the best ones (Ogre, GEV) were written by Steve Jackson and ended up in his company later.

        1. Don’t remember that one. Played some Stellar Conquest, although finding people with the time, patience and honesty to play it was hard.
          As lots of its movement is done hidden to other players there is a great temptation to cheat. Warp Wars microgame was fun but was really driven by the map layout which was fixed and had obvious chokepoints. That might have benefited from some kind of tiled map, but how much can you stick in a little plastic pouch not much bigger than a 3×5 card? and sell for $3.95

          1. By the same token, at $3.95 you could accept the lack of diversity then homebrew your own tiles.

            *looks over at Publisher*

            Godsfire was a little like like SC but used the 3D map that showed up in Holy War.

            1. I used to own a copy of Godsfire. I considered trying to get full on campaign going, until I realized that I would need a second table just for the planet status charts.


                1. Well, yeah. The primary issue with that game – as I recall – was the bookkeeping (which was simple, but required a lot of space). And computers turn that into a non-issue. Actually, though, you don’t even need a computer. Page protectors and dry erase markers, along with a binder to hold all of the paperwork, would likely do the trick. And, of course, an opponent that you trust not to alter the sheets when you’re looking elsewhere.

          2. Oh, and I just remembered this. Somewhere I found an article from present days expanding Warp War for ongoing large games like a club might do. I’ll see if I can find it again.

  11. Funny.

    Because my take-away from that was “OMG THEY HAD YOUR BOOK!”

    I mean, how often does that actually happen?

    Paper books that will be purchased as gifts, particularly as gift *sets* undoubtedly means that the shelf-space given to Tolkien is well appropriated.

    1. When I saw my non-fiction book for sale in a “real” bookstore, it was very hard not to bounce up and down and squeal with delight. No, it doesn’t sell huge numbers, but someone thought it was worth stocking.

      1. Someone put me in the “thank you” acknowledgements at the beginning of their book and I bounced all over and accosted perfect strangers in the book store to point at my name.

        So if you didn’t bounce, I commend your self-control. 😉

        1. Hell, I do that when I get a new Kickstarted RPG book…I show my name in the supporters.

          Yeah, I brag “I spent money on a book.”

      2. Got a kick out of my Aunts. They self published a book that their mother (yes, grandma) had been doodling, writing for years. Wanted to leave something about what she’d heard directly from her grandfather about the wagon trip west, and the brother he’d lost on the Columbia. Actually very small part of the book. She also wrote about growing up in small town southern Oregon. All the kids, grand, and great-grandchildren, had copies given to them. Then a couple of smaller colleges discovered it and used it in one of their “women studies” classes, for a few years, through the ’90s, I think. Don’t think it made much money, but it made some (which went to the Family Graveyard foundation.)

        Remember one comment. “When I read how she had to take her two small children, place them in a specific spot where they’d be safe from the turkeys in the pen, and not expect them to move or play, I was shocked!

        Okay agree with the concept. Yes. It was dangerous for the kids. Yes they did behave. You have to know grandma, trust me, I believed every word. My response to the comment was: “Yep. No child disobeyed her. How do you think I felt when I read that? The little boy? I call dad.” And yes. Turkeys are mean and definitely a danger to little kids. But, you know, the farm (she was suppose to have help to watch the kids, but that was its own problem).

    2. the shelf-space given to Tolkien is well appropriated.

      All that Tolkein shelf space means that the store is staying open and the SFF section is pulling in traffic who might see you book and might, might pick it up and consider whether it’s worth reading.

      Although that tweet, if I remember the author’s name, pretty much guarantees the author going on my “don’t bother” list. There are already authors aplenty who understand they have to earn my attention.

      1. Integrated circuits from the Far East are cheap and retro-computers don’t lecture me about $FOO privilege…nor does the community.

        So, she is competing for that to get my discretionary dollars. Her plans sounds like a poor one.

  12. Let me put it this way….I just had a book released for publication. With luck, there might be 500 copies printed. Maybe. Soft-copy is far more likely. I’d settle for people actually reading the blasted thing. 🙂

    1. If people read it, then you’re one up on me. Just yesterday, I checked the e-book I published on Amazon a couple of months ago. The fact that it doesn’t even come up if I do a title search probably doesn’t help sales. But I can’t really say that I blame Amazon. When I pulled up the reading statistics, I found that exactly one page (equivalent) had been read in the Kindle Library. That means that someone stumbled across it, read the blurb and decided to read it, and then read just enough to decide that thry didn’t like it after all.

      Ah, well.

      1. Well, mine is non-fiction. I never expected it to be a big seller…not that I make money from sales. 🙂

        1. Could be worse. I have 3 titles to my name and a major contributor to several others. All classified. I can’t even have vanity copies on my shelf.

  13. I don’t trust Barns and Noble to have a good idea of what will sell but I do know that selling won’t happen by magic if you get put on book store shelves. No doubt it helps a bit, but only a bit. There’s more out there easily available than anyone could possibly read if they tried, and that’s just counting what you’re likely to like.

    No one is in a position any more to be thinking, “I need a book, I need to read, this book looks sort of suspicious but it’s the only book here that I haven’t read, or it’s the only book labeled sci-fi in the grocery store spinner so I’m going to check it out.”

    No one.

    1. I expect B&N to have a pretty good idea of what has sold.

      As for simply putting a book on the shelf and hoping somebody finds it … that’s what fills the remainder tables.

      The most significant thing about that twit’s tweet is that it gave more reason to not look for her works than to search it out. However much she resents the facts of the marketplace she would be better off accepting that, like gravity, they are predictable, somewhat.

      Back when SFF sold primarily in magazines there were reasons certain authors got their names on the covers and those reasons had little to do with how well they wrote, how much the editor liked them personally nor how glowing the letters of recommendation from their college professors.

      1. Well, I suspect it did involve glowing letters of recommendation, or more correct commendation, and some might have been from college professor.

        Just not specifically their college professors.

        And plenty were from teenage white boys, who no author worth publication would want to notice them.

        Thank heavens I’m not interested in being worthy of publication, but of beer money.

  14. I do have to disagree a little bit about the doctor Duke though… not that it isn’t ridiculous and ahistorical, and also not that I haven’t walled historical romances with fully woke heroines and cherished those with both heroes and heroines who are old fashioned enough in their outlook to feel appropriately un-modern, but the author is providing a product where most customers do not expect historical accuracy and really don’t want it. The author is writing fantasy.

    What did someone say the other day… something about education ruining our fiction and all our fun?

    1. *nod* I like the historical fantasy stuff– I kinda prefer with some magic, but not too much, or it gets into the hard scifi zone of fantasy where you have to think about it too hard.

      Think more “Rule of Cool” or “rule of funny” style writing.

      1. Well, as long as there is some kind of justification, that is one thing. Or if it is an alternate universe. But people who really believe there were ninja-like assassins in the US Revolutionary War are not fun to read.

        1. Agent Franks has many useful traits as a killer, and he employed them on behalf of the Continental Army* during the American Revolution. “Ninja-like” is conspicuously absent from any list of those traits.

          *No, you don’t get to complain about my not providing a spoiler alert for a book that has been available for over five years…. 😉

        2. Wouldn’t a ‘ninja-like’ assassin simply be very good at blending in with civilian workers in order to get close to leaders, poison them, and vanish before anyone notices that something’s wrong?

          If any such were employed, I doubt there’d be records kept of them.

          I also doubt that either side used killers dressed as kabuki theater stage hands, for whatever that’s worth.


          1. I suspect that “ninja-like” includes fancy martial-arts moves & ninja-weapons. 😀

            So yes, there were spies (some are now known) & perhaps “successful hidden assassins”, but nobody using “ninja weapons” & “fancy martial-arts”.

        3. Sure, and I can envision some highly entertaining tales of such ninja-like assassins during the Revolution, so perhaps the problem is that “people who really believe there were ninja-like assassins in the US Revolutionary War” are guilty of other story-telling sins as well?

          Besides, during the American Revolution wouldn’t those ninja-like assassins have more probably been Frontiersmen and Indians, people like Natty Bumppo and Chingachgook?

    2. I can explain the Duke who is a Doctor (of Medicine) quite easily.

      As an heir, his father distrusted Doctors so he wanted his son to be a Doctor so paid his son to go to Medical School.

      After his father died, the new Duke kept up his studies and while he hasn’t “put up his shingle” to be paid for being a doctor, he does treat his servants and family members.

      Why pay another Doctor, when he can do it? 😀

      Yah, maybe not completely realistic but perhaps fun. 😉

      1. I think I can do better. His Grace the Duke had a Calling…medical research. He’s a Gentleman of Science, always with some experimental treatment or drug.

        Sometimes, they work.

        1. If Lord Kelvin could do it for physics, why not? OTOH, one doubts medical practice in Kelvin’s day had quite the lofty reputation as other fields.

          1. No, medicine (as opposed to surgery) was upper-middle-class. Very upper. But being a Gentleman of Science means that you do it for the love of it, not to pay the rent.

            If you want a really good example, Theodore Roosevelt is one of the best. His father told him, point-blank, that while young TR would inherit enough wealth to live comfortably, a man had to do SOMETHING. It was a duty owed to his fellow man, and to his Creator. Theodore took this counsel to heart…and became a warrior, scientist, explorer, and historian. In his spare time, he was President.

        2. Oh my gosh I don’t know how I will use it but I am so totally STEALING the “Gentleman of SCIENCE!” medical dude.

          He’ll probably end up looking like Hildibrand Manderville.

              1. Considering that waking Hildy up often involved 20+ foot high suplex slams…one wonders about concussions being an excuse….

                *Does the Manderville while waiting for news of the next set of adventures for the gentleman inspector.*

              2. I don’t think his travelling companion is helping matters much, either. Especially not with her invariable solution to any problem…

                I’ll note, though, that Godbert has had at least one serious story-related experience (not including his yearly appearence as a Santa Claus stand-in). And it was when he gave the Sultana some *VERY* good advice on how to assist the Ala Mighan resettlement program after the liberation of their homeland. His appearences are generally silly (dating all the way back to his initial appearence as a random weirdo in Bronze Lake). But he’s a successful businessman, and quite likely the richest man in Eorzea. And occassionally, we see why.

                1. Oh yeah, hard core superversion, there.

                  Plus, he seriously pisses Lolorito off just by breathing, which is a big plus in my book.

      2. Oh, another good workaround is one that I used in one of my books – the head of a noble English house (late 19th century) who was second or third son of a younger son, and not thought to be anywhere close to inheriting the title and estate, so on that understanding he went and trained as an engineer, and very happily build roads and bridges. And then, when he was fortyish or so, the others in succession ahead of him all dropped off the perch, so to speak.
        Same thing in Downton Abbey – distant in the succession to a title, go off to pick up a trade, and then … oopsy!

        1. Good one! Allow me to suggest a variation…Second son, destined for the Army (or Navy). Goes into the Engineering Corps, or possibly Artillery. Or a naval career in the mid-1800s (middle of the transition to steam). Then Son #1 kicks the bucket…maybe overthrown by his horse.

          1. Of course, anything related to War was respectable for nobles.

            Learning “Military Engineering” would be respectable but Engineering outside of warfare might be seen as “being in trade”.

          1. Could a cousin have a mother with a brother that was a doctor, and enthusiastic about it?

            That might allow the apprentice angle.

      3. I think that Sarah has mentioned it before and the doctor was a younger son who decided to become a doctor and never expected to inherit. And I agree that this just would not have happened. Not for the son of a Duke. And no matter how much the son wanted to study medicine.

        Now, possibly, had he studied medicine as related to animals it *might* have been suitably applied to agriculture which I get the idea the gentry were allowed to dabble in.

        Abstract science as a hobby? Maybe.

        Caring for human bodily functions, just right out.

        But with a nod to the impossible oddness of it included in the book (at least someone being horrified and no one particularly admiring because *weird*) it would not bother me in a historical romance. But I can definitely see how someone with more knowledge of history would find it impossible to read and enjoy. But romances are fantasy, which is why I can’t seem to write them even if I like to read them.

        1. “Caring for human bodily functions, just right out. ”
          What about searching for the fountain of youth?

        2. The problem is that doctoring in England was a trade still learned by apprenticeship, same as lawyering. So you would have to get a doctor to agree to teach you.

          Now, if he went to Paris, or better, to Bologna and their famous medical school, he would not be so dependent on parental approval of eccentric physicians.

          Veterinary study? Sheesh, that was still something your groom or a farmer did. You probably would learn more from the Roman Army sources or from Columella, or even Albert the Great. But there were a few herbal remedy books and such, and probably some science hobbyists.

            1. Ooh, good point. Surgeon was just barely on the edge between trade and profession, which was why surgeons were “Mister” and not “Doctor.” It took a lot of skill to do well, but there was little respect unless you were at the top. But all that weird anatomist hobby stuff was okay, at least for a while.

              1. Surgeons were complete a trade taught by apprenticeship, with the prestige (or lack thereof) to match. The breakdown was simple: physicians did what we might call “internal medicine” with pills and diet with a helping of astrology, while surgeons handled the teeth, skin, broken bones, and wounds. Given this, aside from bleeding, quite a bit of what surgeons did (as opposed to physicians) was actually more likely to help a patient recover.

                Interesting fact: up to 10% of the surgeons in medieval and Renaissance England were women, with the last being apprenticed in the 1700s. (I want to say 1742, but that’s going from 15 year old memories, and it should be noted England was more liberal on this point than other parts of Europe.) Generally, they were part of families already in surgeon guilds, so the barriers to entry were lower, but the important thing to remember about Elizabeth Blackwell is that she was the first female physician (by having attended university), not the first woman in the modern Western world to do what we think of as “doctor’s work.”

              2. In that period, “doctor” was a Ph.D. equivalent, and the English universities weren’t issuing M.D.’s yet.

                  1. Yep.

                    I could buy a medieval or Renaissance son from a cadet branch of the family going to university and sufficient calamity wipes out the heirs to make him the Doctor Duke … but if so, his “doctoring” is going to be all humoral theory and astrology, with perhaps a bit alchemy mixed in, not setting bones, sewing stitches, and making ointments, and MOST DEFINITELY not anatomical studies via dissection or worse, delivering babies. That stuff’s as bad as the Duchess going market shopping in her carriage.

          1. The problem is that there was a lot of history going on, so getting to Italy or Paris would require some timeline work. German universities might be easier, depending on where.

          2. As a wealthy aristocrat, he could probably serve as a patron for a medical school. And as such, he could be invited to attend guest lectures. Given enough of them, a certain amount of knowledge might acrue inside his mind, with outside reading to fill in the gaps that his curiousity demanded be filled.

        3. I’m not so sure. As I understand it, the late Georgian/Victorian policy was that Son #1 was for the land (inherited the titles and lands that went with it), Son #2 was for the Army (or maybe the Navy, but a duke’s son would have a commission in a cavalry regiment), and Son #3 was for the clergy (maybe…a duke’s third son might well find himself with an infantry commission).

          Probably the biggest headache is that there just aren’t that many dukes. It’s the top of the peerage. A Baron or Viscount would be a whole lot more plausible.

          1. Eh, burn the family home down with the duke, all his sons, and perhaps the first cousins as well. Unexpectedly, a physician finds himself duke.

      4. Make him an explorer / big game hunter (in his youth?) who’s been stuck out in the blue with no medical care….. He survived but isn’t getting caught that way again.

      1. Nod.

        I could think of ways that a Duke (somehow) had the knowledge to be a doctor, but he definitely wouldn’t talk much about it (or practice medicine for an income).

      2. Well, it is prestigious! A DUKE! How many of those are swanning about? The doctor part, well, the nobs have peculiar habits, we all know that. I heard of one who wrote plays, of all things, and shipped them off to some poncey actor from Avon to produce. The one whose land me cousin Sean farms supposedly dresses up at night all in black and robs coaches on the King’s High Way. ‘Course he don’t keep what he takes, it’s all a lark, ennit? So he slips it to the poor box at vespers an’ larfs up his sleeve at his victims when he runs inter them at court.

        I dunno ’bout no duke doctoring, but I has heard of one Count what liked to play doctor with the gels ’round town, palpating their breasts and checking them for pox …

      3. More likely the whole “Doctor” thing just would not be discussed in polite company, just in the gossip mill: Had you heard what he was up to before all his elder brothers died in that horrible boating accident and he became the Duke? Embarrassing, that. Best to put it all behind one once one gains title. Quite.

  15. Is a fundamental misunderstanding what results from shoving your head up your butt, or is it the process which causes you to insert your head there?

    Asking for a friend.

  16. Heh. This is the week I cover Adam Smith, and his arguments about the market and how governments do better if (to use modern terms) they let consumers decide what they want and how many of it.

    1. Wealth of Nations would be much shorter and easier to read if it had some equations and charts instead of walls of text.
      Be sure to explain that “corn” means “feed grain”, not “maize”! That baffled me for most of the text.

      1. “Corn” in fact means “grain, in general.” It’s just that the British and American usages drifted to different grains.

  17. When it comes to magic affecting the economy, make sure that strong magic has costs that prevent it from being used on an industrial scale. (Or make the costs of scaling up evil, so that the villains can do it and the heroes can manfully resist temptation. Oh, and the people that the heroes want to impress can waver and potentially fall to the evil side.) Otherwise, why _aren’t_ your civilizations using magitech?

    It’s telling that the people who run the abusive grooming-indoctrination complex we call public education have kept lowering and lowering the bar ever since Wilson decided that the purpose of educating the masses was to produce obedient drones. Learn enough math to calculate interest compounded continually? Who needs that? Understand how to balance a checkbook? Gone! Memorize multiplication tables? You didn’t show your work a la Common Core, so your answer is incorrect!


    1. I was reading a book that mixed chivalric romance with modern machinery. Knights riding around on motorcycles and fighting monsters. And I was thinking — HOW do you manage to keep a factory going when a dragon can pop up out of nowhere and burn it down?

      1. Heck, how do you keep one going if 200 orcs can show up and burn it to the ground.

        Killing out competition is just part of making sure you survive. It’s not racist to want to live.

        1. That one she had covered. No orcs. 0:)

          But it would be a problem in high fantasy. Factory sites are the most heavily defended locations in the world in one WIP.

  18. she thinks that shelves are allotted by order of `importance.`

    Shelves are allotted by order of importance. I am a corporate accountant and I know about these things.

    Her misunderstanding arises from her failure to properly conceive of how the store ought define importance. Importance has nothing to do with “significance in its literary field,” which seems to be how she perceives the term. What it has to do with is “ability to generate maximum profit relative to retail space occupied.” It is that meaning of importance: contribution to renting the building, keeping the lights on, financing the debt, paying employee salaries and attendant costs (TL:DR version: keeping the doors open) which the store must use in determining shelf space.

    LOTR fans will buy all sorts of crap memorabilia, including vastly over-priced commemorative editions. People who are not fans of LOTR will still come in to buy it because it is widely acknowledged as a great gift for that grandchild, nephew or niece who nobody in the family understands but love all the same. LOTR fricking brings customers into the @#$!% store, ya moron!!!!!

    Nobody, absolutely nobody goes into a SFF section looking for the latest Hugo or Nebula award-winning novel. This was true even before those awards became widely recognized indicators of book-cooties. Of you do not understand this you have NO BUSINESS writing novels for a living. People do not generally buy novels because they are “wonderfully well-written” or “offer important observations on what it is to be human,” nor do stores pay their bills by stocking such books. You can bet that way, but the smart money goes for “shit people want to read and want their friends to read and want strangers they meet walking down the street to read” — and stores stay open by stocking what people want (as differentiated from ought) to read.

    1. What it has to do with is “ability to generate maximum profit relative to retail space occupied.”

      Half of me wants to show her a linear system that could figure out how many of a set of books to stock that fill a picture linear feet of shelf space (even a simplified one that only considered turnover, not considering different profit margins and space consumption of different books) just to see her yell about being told there would be no math.

      The other half of me remembers that’s not a kind of programming I enjoy and she’s not worth my pain.

      1. There’s an additional point there:

        Seen on Facebook: “Don’t try to explain yourself to idiots. You are not the fsckface whisperer.”

    2. I wonder if she thinks The Shape of Water (2018 Best Picture Oscar winner) deserves more shelf space in the DVD section at Target/Wal-Mart than The Greatest Showman (came out same year, didn’t get a best picture nomination).

      Quick internet search reveals $9.8 million video sales for Shape of Water and $74 million for Greatest Showman. I know which one I would stock more copies of (same with the books) if I were running a store.

      1. Sure, you’d think that… and then you’d find that your profit margin for Shape of Water was $1.12 per copy and Greatest Showman, pre-priced at a discount, only gets you 17 cents per copy. Plus your upstream distributor pre-allocated you only 200 copies, won’t ship any more, and distributor contracts mean you can’t fill the gap by buying anywhere else. Meanwhile, you received ten cases of Shape of Water, so you open one and use the contents to disguise the empty spots on your shelves…

        When you see a store with a LOT of some item on the shelves, it’s not always an indication that it’s a big seller…

        Back in the ’90s the not-so-local WaldenDaltonBooks chains had only limited SF, and more than half of it was Edgar Rice Burroughs and other reprints, some of which had reverted to the public domain. And much of the rest were 40+ year old “classic SF” reprints they probably paid pennies to license, considering almost all the authors had already shuffled off this mortal coil. And then there’d be a handful of new books, most of which were of the “grey goo” category.

        Did any of it sell? Not that I ever noticed; at least, the same shopworn copies would be on the shelves for entire seasons.

      2. Which t stock more of? That’s easy: The Shape of Water.

        With seven copies of The Shape of Water selling for every copy of The Greatest Showman the first picture is obviously going to entail much higher reordering and restocking costs so you would obviously want to reduce those costs by making the DVD less available.


      1. Kind of makes me want to make a little bug to hand out as a counterpoint to David Gerrold’s Asterisks. Or a bug Sticker to walk into B&N and stick to the recent Hugo and Nebula winners… Never mind I’ll behave myself and leave that manner of jerk behavior to the other side.

  19. Without disagreeing in the slightest about the general economic ignorance re supply and demand, it’s not impossible that the stock selectors for the bookstores might be somewhat ignorant in that regard too. Certainly the big chains are often victims of what the central publishers convince the distributors should be or ought to be in high demand.

    1. True enough. Supply and demand only work successfully if the feedback loop is not severed. Look at the vending machine at work. I’ve seen items sit there for years, but it doesn’t matter because the guy who stocks the machine pays no attention since he has no stake in people actually buying the stuff. CNN plays at the airports because CNN pays the airport to have them show it. At some point you do run out of other people’s money and are hit by “bad luck,” but you can run a long time on some billionaire’s money.

      1. I managed to catch the deliveryman and jack him up over that. Some items sold out within hours, others sat there until they passed their expiration dates.

        His explanation was that while the items were all priced the same in the machine, *his company’s price* was not; the most popular items were almost always the ones they had the lowest profit margin on. So they tried to optimize the weekly reload to maximize their profit.

        I still think their accounting was wonky; after the second day, there were almost no sales, even of the garbage items. So for at least three days a week the machines were making no money. At the very least, restocking them twice a week would have been more profitable…

        Apparently the machines they used weren’t configurable to put different prices on each item, which might have been useful.

  20. Such lunacy led me to give up on Star Trek: Voyager early in their first season. IIRC the driving force of the show was that they were trying to get home. They encountered a planet with a civilization that could do that for them in an instant, but they wanted something. Seems these aliens had all their needs taken care of (by magic of course), but they were bored, so they asked the Voyager crew for their STORIES. They wanted a frickin’ LIBRARY CARD! So of course the captain refused, and they wandered through some galaxy without me in their audience for god-only-knows how many more seasons.

    I’m sure Ms. Fonda Lee (has to be a pen name, right?) wouldn’t sell her stories to those aliens either.

    1. Yup. Hell, give them a complete set of Shakespeare’s works. Throw in Tolkien, C.S. Forester, and Tom Clancy.

      1. Heh, great minds.

        I was imagining what a ship crewed by folks like us would do, and had a vision of folks going “Wait, you WANT books? HERE! Have the entire Gutenberg collection, all my e-books, and how are you guys on ballads or music?”

        Hell, the Navy is probably one of the biggest e-piracy circles around, because of the folks going “Oooh, you need something to read/watch/listen to? Have a copy of mine!”

        Er, or so I’ve heard.

        1. You can only carry so many paperbacks in BDU pockets when on a C-141 flight to Korea. But multiply that number by 30 members of your deployment team. ..

          1. Deployment seems to be a major contributor toward reading…

            I was talking to a guy who was one of the first in-country at Desert Shield; the word hadn’t gotten out yet about lack of entertainment, so *any* reading matter was sought after. He was talking about reading the last half of a Harlequin romance. At my raised eyebrow, he said the shortage of books was so acute that paperbacks were torn in half, you put your name on the list, and counted yourself lucky if you got to read two halves of a book in their intended order. *Any* book, even if it was something you wouldn’t have touched with a ten-foot pole otherwise.

            1. That’s how I ended up reading the Twilight books. Not quite in deployment, but at Great Mistakes in 2009, waiting to come back on active duty. The Exchange had NO books, and I had no eReader. I was dying. Twilight is at least decent storytelling, even if I don’t like the writing or the story itself.

              1. Of course sometimes that desperation can cause a lucky win. Was coming back from a conference in Hamburg Germany and had a stopover in Heathrow. With a paucity of amusement in Hambug I had burned through my books. Wandered into a bookstore in the terminal and spent my last 10 Dm on a real Cadbury bar and a copy of this book that wasn’t out in paper in the US yet, called Hunt For Red October.
                Even got a 50P coin in change (Deutchmark was high in the mid 80’s).

      2. Add Nevil Shute, Heinlein, Kipling, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. These alone give enough story to pay for quite a lot of things.

        1. I have a special fondness for Shute’s “Trustee from the Toolroom”, but to be honest, most of the rest of his stuff ranges from “depressing” to “grim.”

          1. “Trustee” is one of my favorites, but I also like “In the Wet” and “Round the Bend”. Even if grim or depressing, he examines some interesting concepts in his fiction. Things like granting people extra votes for certain beneficial actions, or using one’s everyday life as a form of worship. I also like that most of his protagonists are just ordinary people living their ordinary lives while doing extraordinary things.

            1. “On The Beach” strongly tainted my view of him.

              Did those writers of those sort of “everybody will die in WW3” books really believe that the leaders of the Soviet Union would think “that’s terrible, we better make peace with the West”?

              I really doubt that the average soviet “citizen” got to read those sort of books and I really doubt they’d dare tell their leaders “let’s make peace with the Capitalists”.

              1. I don’t know Drak but the thought of The Soviet Leaders asses (and those of their descendants) being vaporized seems to have slowed them down enough that we’re all still standing here. Though it was a darn close thing… I think it also didn’t hurt that up until mid 60’s their ability to wreck us was far exceeded by our ability to wreck them and they knew that. Once they got a fair number of truly ICBM’s it became a mexican standoff. History teacher I had likened it to two guys in a steel closet with shotguns. Even if only on guy shoots it probably ain’t gonna be pretty.

                1. MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) is one thing.

                  People pushing Western Governments to “give in to the Soviet Union to avoid WW3”, is another.

                  Would MAD work if one side thought the other side wouldn’t use Nukes?

                  I laughed when the Soviet Union said that they wouldn’t start a Nuke Exchange and idiots wanted the US to say the same.

                  There was (perhaps unfounded) a belief that the Soviet Union could conquer Europe without using Nukes so there was the concern that if the US wasn’t willing to use Nukes in defense of Europe, then the Soviet Union would conquer Europe.

                  1. Right its the appeasement thing, feed the crocodile so he eats us last. It may mean you’re eaten last but the interval from first to last is going to be awful short. Crocodiles are hungry beasts.

                  2. I laughed when the Soviet Union said that they wouldn’t start a Nuke Exchange and idiots wanted the US to say the same.

                    Sort of like Dwayne Johnson telling Reese Witherspoon he wouldn’t resort to firearms first if she agreed to meet him hand-to-hand. By the time US Conventional Forces were seriously engaged in Europe the Soviets would be having an after-the-blitz smoke. A tripwire with nothing behind does about much to slow tanks coming through the Fulda Gap as an intact hymen does to prevent rape.

            2. Shute was author of the original story for the 1951 Jimmy Stewart, Marlene Dietrich and Glynis Johns film No Highway In The Sky:

              An excellent film not widely seen.

        2. We can probably agree on giving them no Larry Correia, no David Weber and oh, John Ringo, No!

          Sarah’s Shifter series but not her Darkship tales.

          Would giving them Anthony’s Xanth books constitute a war crime?

    2. I only remember Janeway refusing to be Q’s queen and send the rest of her crew and the others home instantly. I do not remember the demand for stories. How was that one explained?

      (I thought it obvious that Janeway should have sacrificed her self for her crew but it was at least *coherent* that she and the crew refused.)

          1. OFFS…when has any Starfleet Captain actually obeyed the Prime Directive.

            The whole purpose of the TOS Enterprise was to contaminate an alien culture, blow something up, and get someone laid every episode (and, no, it wasn’t always Kirk on #3, but enough that we all wanted to be him).

            1. In fairness, they also spent a lot of time fixing when someone had a Great Brilliant Idea like, oh, “hey let’s make this planet into Nazis, that’ll go well!”

              1. But recall the fix for that one was to replace the bad Nazis with reformer Nazis, who would honor the good intentions of the original Federation-supplied Fuhrer and use the Reichs vast intrusive government power and secret police only for good.

                1. Right Remember the Great Bird had a fondness for lefty government (No Money, and conflict all gone for Next Generation until Roddenberry kicks the bucket). Given his penchant for chasing the young ladies it should be no surprise he was liberal leaning.

                2. Not quite how I remember it– the method of removing the head Nazi guy would pretty much destroy the trust required for the intrusive gov’t to function, and they’d go back to their just-recently-contained anarchy.

                  1. That’s my memory as well.

                    The Federation guy started the Nazi thing but wasn’t really bad and was being used as a puppet by some of the local Bad Guys.

                    Kirk and company freed him from the control of the local Bad Guys and the Federation guy broadcasted a reputation of what was being done in his name.

                    The local Bad Guys then killed him (IIRC his death was also broadcasted live) and then everything broke down.

                    1. My mistake, two of the “locals” Nazi were actually Resistance folks and after the death of the Federation guy & the “Real Bad Guy” were going to disband the “Nazi Party” control.

                      Of course, a nasty person might think that the Resistance guys were lying to Kirk & company. 😉

                  2. [Broadcast booth]

                    (Kirk gives Gill another injection.)
                    KIRK: Professor Gill, can you hear me? You’ve got to speak. You’ve got to speak. This is our last chance. Gill?

                    [Main room {SPOCK is acting as a captured spy as a distraction to give KIRK time to undrug and slap around GILL}]

                    DARAS: The Deputy Fuhrer’s an authority on the genetics of racial purity. How would you classify this one?
                    MELAKON: Very difficult. Note the sinister eyes and the malformed ears. Definitely an inferior race.

                    [Broadcast booth]

                    (Kirk tries slapping Gill to wake him up.)
                    KIRK: Professor. Professor! You’ve got to talk! You’ve got to tell them what happened. You’ve got to come out of it. Come on, Professor. Come on. Come on.

                    [Main room]

                    MELAKON: Note the low forehead, denoting stupidity. The dull look of a trapped animal. You may take him now for interrogation, but I want the body saved for the Cultural Museum. He’ll make an interesting display.
                    (The viewscreen comes alive, and Gill is speaking for himself.)
                    GILL: People. People of Ekos.
                    MELAKON: Go to the booth. See to the Fuhrer at once. He’s ill. Turn off that camera.
                    GILL: Hear me.
                    MELAKON: I suggest we leave and let our Fuhrer rest.
                    GILL [OC]: We were betrayed by a self-seeking adventurer who has led us all to the very brink of disaster. I order the immediate recall of the space fleet. This attack must stop. All units are to return to base. To Zeon I promise, this was not an aggression of Ekosian people.

                    [Broadcast booth]

                    GILL: Only one evil man. Melakon

                    [Main room]

                    GILL [OC]: Is a traitor to his own people and all that we stand for. To the Zeon people, I promise reparation and
                    (Melakon grabs a machine gun and fires at the curtained window of the broadcast booth. Isak shoots Melakon and Eneg intervenes when a soldier points his weapon at Isak.)
                    ENEG: Wait, soldier. There’s been enough killing. Now we’ll start to live the way the Fuhrer meant us to live.

                    [Broadcast booth]

                    GILL: (shot and dying in Kirk’s arms) I was wrong. The non-interference Directive is the only way. We must stop the slaughter.
                    KIRK: You did that, Professor. You told them in time.
                    GILL: Even historians fail to learn from history. They repeat the same mistakes. Let the killing end. Let (dies)
                    (Spock knocks on the door to be let in.)
                    SPOCK: Is he dead, Captain?
                    KIRK: Dead.
                    ISAK: For so long I’ve prayed for this. Now I’m sorry.
                    KIRK: So is he.
                    ISAK: You’ve given us all a new chance.
                    ENEG: Thank you, but go now. We must do the rest.
                    DARAS: Eneg and I will go on the air, offer a new way for our people. For all our people, both Zeons and Ekosians.
                    ENEG: It is time to stop the bloodshed, to bury our dead.


                    OK, so the underground is declaring preemptive peace, but it’s not clear to me that they are disbanding anything.

                    1. ???

                      I didn’t say they disbanded, I said that the guy dying on air screwed any chance of the All Powerful State being trusted….

                    2. Yes, that was Drak – sorry, I should have been more clear who was saying what.

                      I also had a chuckle at “Oh, we’ll do a TV announcement and that will resolve things”.

                    3. Well, I was going from the Wiki article on that episode and of course Wiki can be wrong. 😉

                      On the other hand, those two guys were apparently the Good Guys helping Kirk and company so “of course” we should believe them when they say “we’ll fix the problem”.

                      On the gripping hand, they might have meant what they said to Kirk & company but may not have been able to follow through. 😦

                    4. Drak: There’s a proud Federation tradition of “Well, we’re about out of time for this episode, so we have to wrap things up!”

                      I’m sure all the Wehrmacht, Gestapo, SS and Nazi Party officials on the entire planet of Ekos will just turn in their cool uniforms and go home once that TV announcement from two people nobody ever heard of is broadcast.

                      I also want to see CBS do one (maybe on the awful ST:D) where the rogue Fed history professor does Stalin: “It’s really never been tried! This time we’ll do it right!”

                    5. Well on the proud Federation tradition, that’s actually the problem of “we have 45 (don’t forget the commercials) minutes to tell this story but the real aftermath would take another 45 minutes. 😈

                      On the Stalin clone story, they’d just have a Bad Guy named Emmanuel Goldstein who ruins the Stalin-clone’s utopia. 😈 😈 😈 😈

          2. But not Starfleet’s for once! So that part was actually interesting.

            Except it sounds like the official dude could have perfectly well accepted the library and sent them home without taking the risk of actually letting them do anything else with the transportation technology, but he didn’t because he was only interested in toying with them as a source of drama, so possibly this was an example of “this character represents the producers/audience, ain’t you a jerk for enjoying this.”

            1. Or the officer that said it might be a bargaining chip was right but we never found out because zomga we can’t give them EBOOKS!

              1. I’m not sure if I’m reading it wrong, or you’re remembering the actual episode and the Memory Alpha description is wrong, or what. It looks to me like Memory Alpha says Janeway actually offered to trade the books. “Janeway then proposes that the Sikarians use the device to send Voyager itself, without giving up the technology, in return for a full library of the Federation’s finest literature.”

        1. Looked it up on Memory Alpha. The official representative of the planet wouldn’t agree to use their special transporter to send them home, and Janeway wasn’t willing to go behind his back with the guy willing to violate planetary law to give them the technology outright. Tuvok did it anyway, but it turned out they couldn’t make the device work themselves because of tech incompatibility.

          So… Janeway’s priorities can certainly be criticized, but “Well crud, here we are on the other end of the Prime Directive” with a side order of “even more crud, we can’t do the engineering for once” makes somewhat more plot sense than “not willing to trade stories.”

        2. Okay. Yes, remember. Voyager wasn’t going to get the technology because the planetary PTB wouldn’t give it to them. So, some of the crew, focusing on the Marque, tried to bargain with planet black market. Succeeded in getting the technology. In the end it was incompatible with Voyager’s systems, and couldn’t be made to do so. Nor could the planet use the technology to send Voyager home. Or some such excuse. Essentially a false promise.

          Yes. Janeway, et al, did a lot of moralizing regarding the Federation’s policy, while they were no longer in the Federation … Slippery slope, etc. OTOH it was a show about “new” places, without the overhead of all the future stuff. Outside the ship. Back to STO or Enterprise, where home was too far to interfere or weigh in. All three captains were more loose with the “prime directive” than headquarters would have preferred.

    3. Voyager lost me with the “Phage” aliens. First they stole Neelix’s lungs (he survived–darn it–because Kes donated one of hers). Janeway’s response to the assault on a de-facto crew member? She gave them a stern talking to threatening dire results if they ever did anything like that again. Then, a few episodes later, they did it again, killing another crew member (who stayed dead, unlike Neelix, darn it). Not even a stern talking to this time but the Sir Robin maneuver.

      With that, I was done with Voyager.

      1. Wow. Not sure what, exactly, did Voyager in for me but I must’ve dropped it earlier than some here. I see now that I managed to make the right choice if perhaps by accident.

        1. Voyager did it for me when the lost captain and ship wasn’t Geordi’s mother.

          So I was an early adopter, I guess.

        2. Voyager felt like “Lost in Space” without the intellectual imprimatur of Dr. Zachary Smith. I was pretty much done with it from day one

          1. I watched Voyager for a while, primarily due to lack of awareness of alternate small screen SF fixes. I gave it up when I decided it wasn’t worth my time and not only did I not care what happened to the characters I was hoping it would happen harder and faster.

  21. when the villain becomes ‘reformed’ and just gives his whole fortune away to people who probably drink it away within a week and, presumably, dies in a gutter shortly thereafter.

    Now, that sounds like the start of a very good novel.

    Although I think Black Adder may have already gone there.

  22. I’ve read several SF space stories lately and at least when they go interplanetary, they use rare metals and gems for trade, in addition to various technical manuals and entertainments.

    Heh. Economics is cold equations. Cold equations of cold, hard cash. I bet cold hard cash has warmed more authors than any number of momentary rushes from awards.

    First of all, can I write anything and actually finish it? (Working on it, my discipline sucks. At least this month is a bit of inspiration.) Second, can I write something that someone is willing to pay for to read? Third, can I make more money than it costs to put it out there? Fourth (way down the list), can I make enough to pay bills with it? I know, I’m getting ahead of myself, see step 1. However, these are the things I’m trying to get through 2nd born child’s granite protected head since said child wants to be a journalist. So far, he’s making more money as a substitute elementary school teacher.

  23. The dead great shall always be with us. You want to outsell them: write a lot and write well.

    Pfui. You don’t even have to write all that well. Harold Robbins and Joan Collins and Jacqueline Suzanne and Anne Rice and J. K. Rowling and whassername what writes Twilight and [insert example of your choice here] don’t write particularly well. But they apparently write entertainingly for mass audiences, and that’s where the $$$ lies.

    A strong argument can be made that Dickens didn’t write especially well, or that Shakespeare was inferior to various contemporaries. It simply doesn’t matter. Having your books discussed and debated by learned scholars a hundred years from now puts no butter, much less delicious jams and jellies, on your roll today.

      1. This may qualify as a spoiler (although likely not unless you’ve been out of the country for 6 months). I will take the line, “I am Iron Man” and what follows over anything Scorsese has shot any day of the week. Raging Bull, Taxi Driver Feh.

        1. Heck, I just recently watched the last one of the core series, don’t see a spoiler there and whole heartedly agree.

          They managed to hit the Pratchett zone with those movies– they’re fun, they’re enjoyable, they’re well made, and then you start paying attention and oh holy heck wait WHAT? that’s AWESOME!

          1. Not all the MCU universe movies are great (I’m looking at YOU Thor: Dark World) but when they’re good they’re excellent. And the humorous ones (e.g. Ant Man, Thor Ragnarok) are just romps. Why must everything have MEANING (I’d put that in 72 Pt Bold but WordPress would screw it up 🙂 )? Not that it can’t have meaning but why is it that the liberal types have to suck the fun out of everything? It’s like they’re fun dementors. They’re H.L. Mencken’s puritans afraid somewhere someone is having fun.

            1. I haven’t watched too very closely, but I do remember noting a few things that I remembered from the “it’s just fun” movies that fed into the Important Stuff movies.

              1. DC fell prey to the “take us seriously! We’re not comic book movies, we’re SERIOUS, look how dark and serious we are!” thing rather than embracing and enhancing all the awesome like MCU.

                1. DC’s issues are at least partly Zach Snyder’s fault. Some comments of his made it clear that he’d missed the whole “fun” thing where superhero movies are involved.

                    1. If I remember correctly, he did The 300, which was also a comic book movie. But what Warner Brothers apparently failed to realize was that it was a completely different kind of comic book movie than the one that they should be trying to make.

                  1. We’re slowly working through the greatest Batman (with the best Joker; Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill) series ever made, then we’ll go to the Justice League/JLU series (same character, different continuity).

                    Seriously, all the have to do is copy their dang existing shows…..

                    1. So far, the weakest one IMHO was Flashpoint Paradox, and that may be because I despise time travel plots —- they never get done right.

                    2. I didn’t see the animated Flashpoint. But I got the gist of the comic book version, which soured me on it.

                      Namely, Eobard Thawn goes back in time and murders Barry Allen’s mother. In Thawn’s original timeline, Mrs. Allen didn’t get murdered, and Barry still became one of the most idealistic heroes of the setting. Barry ends up undoing Thawn’s murder of his mother. But instead of reverting to the earlier timeline, suddenly the timeline is thrown into mass confusion.

                      Uh… what…?

                      I think the closest thing that I saw to an explanation for this nonsense was someone explaining that Thawn’s speed powers are time-based, while Barry’s are not.

                      Still not buying it.

              2. Draven that’s a bit like comparing Thor: Dark World to a pointy stick in the eye. Only decent DC movie so far was Wonder Woman, though I heard Aquaman was OK.

                1. Aquaman is exactly what I’d heard it is: Hot guy with lots of cool special effects.
                  If you want something more from it, you will be disappointed.

        2. Ahem. Kyle Smith nails Scorses:

          Scorsese’s Marvel Critique Makes No Sense
          He can’t be expected to know this since he doesn’t watch the movies, but emotional richness, not CGI, is what holds them together.
          Martin Scorsese is not a film snob. How could he be? In his four-hour documentary A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, he extols the virtues of Westerns, gangster pictures, melodramas, musicals — the genre blockbusters of their day. These pictures were with rare exceptions made within the strict confines of the studio system under the watchful eye of showmen who sought to match public taste, not advance the possibilities of the art form. And virtually every Hollywood movie released between 1934 and 1968 submitted to the self-censorship bureau, the Hays Office, that severely circumscribed what artists could do. “All criminal action had to be punished,” notes a Wikipedia summary, “and neither the crime nor the criminal could elicit sympathy from the audience, or the audience must at least be aware that such behavior is wrong, usually through ‘compensating moral value.’” Complexity suffered in an era when frowning Comstocks required every movie to contain the proper degree of moral uplift.

          That’s why it was so jarring to hear Scorsese wave off Marvel movies as “not cinema.” Kiss Me Deadly, Gold Diggers of 1935, and Cat People are in the cinema club; Captain America: The Winter Soldier is out? Scorsese cites revelation, complexity, unpredictability, and depth of character as his criteria for real cinema, but are there really more of these things in a Busby Berkeley musical than in Avengers: Endgame? We’re all nostalgic for our youth, yet we err when we tell ourselves everything was necessarily better when we were younger.


          … He can do more or less whatever he wants in movies and find someone to foot the bill. All around him, other art-minded directors are getting funding for their passion projects, too. If the five big studios won’t back them, they have lots of other options. They can go to Netflix or Lionsgate or Chinese investors or a hedge fund like the one that financed The Wolf of Wall Street. In the entire history of film, artistically ambitious filmmakers have never had it better than they do now. In the previous golden age of auteurism, the 1970s, visionary directors were given lots of freedom but not much money. Now they enjoy access to both.

          Scorsese is equally wrong to claim Marvel “isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.” He can’t be expected to know this since he doesn’t watch the movies, but emotional richness, not CGI, is what holds them together. Consider the gratitude and humility of the pipsqueak Steve Rogers when he finally gets the opportunity to fight for his country because an experimental therapy makes him strong. Or the touching and funny way Peter Quill connects to his dead mother via her favorite Lite FM tunes. Or how the arrogant billionaire Tony Stark turns to pudding like any other dad when his little girl, at bedtime, tells him, “I love you 3,000.” Superhero movies have plenty of human depth and struggle. But in order to notice, you first have to watch them.

    1. These days you don’t even need to sell Joan Collins numbers to make a living.

      For the first time in decades.

      Seriously, run the numbers on Amazon at 70%, assume no tail (ie, when you next book hits the prior one stops selling) and releasing 1 book/quarter. At $4.99 (seems to be a common price point) you can have the equivalent of a banker’s income (ie, mine) including the SET and covering medical after taxes on about 10-20k per book, which is nowhere near best seller territory. The big variable is much your marketing is costing.

      I may not write well, but I can run numbers, which in the days of indie might be just as important.

      1. Coff. Herb. Point of order. YOU are overestimating the numbers for bestsellers in my field. 20k IS NYT bestseller territory.
        BUT more importantly for my purposes, I can make what I need at 2.99 2k sales. Short novel a month.

        1. Heh. Small ball’s somewhere around takeout night once every other month or so. Which isn’t anything to sneeze at when things are rather thin.

          If you’ve a rather wide assortment of irons in the fire, there might be cabinetry over here and shade tree mechanic work over there, a bit of generic handyman work for a bit, painting houses in season, computer repair in the other season, and maybe a story or two when time allows after the day job is done.

          If one falls through, or multiple ones go dead on you for bit, or the writing gets lemony for a bit, there’s bound to be something going. If you’re the type that knows he gets in trouble without something to commit to, it’s a living (and one outside of jail because of it).

        2. That’s fine. The big brick sellers were the comparison used so I justed filled in three values for the three variables, price, sales, and frequency that works.

          There are plenty of other valid combos.

        1. Mea culpa — but in my defense I wasn’t reading that crap, I was reading far more interesting (to me, and being a selfish git I never cared was it interesting to anybody else) crap, like Robert E Howard, Jules Verne, Anson MacDonald, Jack Williamson, Ted Sturgeon and other besmearers of pulps.

    2. I always like to bring up Mickey Spillane when people get uppity on “quality of writing.” 225 million sold, two TV series, and a bunch of movies, while the literati shrieked and gibbered in their ivory towers.

      More than half a century later it’s not as obvious how much Spillane was hated. A few years ago I came across half a dozen references to him from the 1950s, all within a few weeks, and each was outraged that he got published at all; later, I found out he’d been frozen out of most of tradpub on the wink-wink nudge-nudge, and they tried to shiv his eventual publishers, but they were so busy counting their money they didn’t notice.

      What it boiled down to was the Unwashed Masses were willing to shell out hard cash for Spillane novels instead of the proper literature they were supposed to…

    3. Isn’t the best-selling author in the entire world a dead British woman who wrote about how an odd, vain old Belgian man was the greatest detective ever because he, like, thought really HARD? I believe she is. (And people will still be reading Agatha Christie several decades from now, I’ll just best.)

  24. This is because they misunderstand the relative wealth and importance of earning a living in the professions.

    Note to self, have copies of my time-travel Byzantine romance self corrupt if held by Sarah, so she doesn’t see how badly I will probably mangle history/attitudes. 🙂

  25. And why is there only one copy of this author’s book? Well, because B & N and traditional publishers still use push?

    Because success in retail is very much about churn, now many times you turn over a $1 you send on goods for sale. Those 18 copies of LotR will sell out before the one copy of this author’s book in most stores. Perhaps more than once. If I substitute 3 extra copies of the author’s book for one LotR (mmp, similar price expected) I’ll tie up the cost of four books instead of one while turning over 15 instead of 18 in the same period. For ease of math assume turnover is monthly and the books earn $1 profit. Then she will bring in $1/month for $12 year for 1 unit tied up. The 18 units in LotR will bring in $18/month for $216. If I tie up 4 units in her, I still only sell $12/year but leave $36/year on the table (or more likely in Amazon’s pocket) for LotR.

    In fact, B&N et al are already doing this by tying up money in hot authors instead of midlisters with reliable year in/year out sales. Yes, I know inventory tax treatment and what publishers keep in print are really behind this, but the retail math is the same.

    Also, that assumes all those LotR are MMP or TP like her book would be. I’ll bet 1/4-1/3 are fine editions meant for display on shelves as much as reading. Those are higher markup items, meaning they can out earn her even if they turn around less often than she does. If the profit is $3 on those in the above example, they can sell through 1/quarter and earn as much as she would for the bookseller.

    Retail is a hard business with very unforgiving math. Ask Borders, who stocked more broadly than B&N even then, much less B&N now. That’s why I preferred them. It is also part of what killed them.

  26. Someone tell the writer that there’s a crowd-sourced system where the general populace provides incentives to writers who give the public what it wants. The incentives feel kind of like Likes on Facebook, but in this system the Likes are called “money.”

  27. I am still looking for more info about the notorious Dublin slave market of the early Middle Ages. Apparently this is why a lot of Scottish people have genes that come from Saharan tribes in the middle of nowhere — because the Vikings were not just selling the Irish to the Spanish Muslims, but were also buying exotic thralls for the Norse market. (And several Irish kings took over Dublin temporarily and freed the slaves; it just did not take. And in the post-Viking pre-English period, a lot of warring kingdoms raided for slaves and sold their Irish neighbors to the Spanish Muslim market or to the English. The Normans actually banned slave stuff in England before Henry II et al, which hurt the market but did not stop it until after the English were more in control. And that is why a lot of early medieval Irish clerics blamed the slave trade for why God permitted the English to win.)

    (This is just some amazingly interesting stuff, because the legal Irish idea from very early medieval times was that slavery was just a bad monetary/stockholder situation, and temporary. Selling people outside the kingdoms, somewhere with permanent slavery or soul-imperilment, was getting around the laws in a pretty brutal way.)

    So yeah, it is totally okay to do a Tuareg/Scottish romance set in 1000 or so. It would be awesome.

    1. It sounds like my fantasy!Viking prince-and-his-army – that was brought in to destroy the slave-trade route that the fantasy!Arabs had been using to slave-raid the fantasy!Slavs – is going to end up taking the locals as thralls and sending them back to fantasy!Norway to be part of their own slave trade network.

      The POV character may pause his Dungeon Keeper/Conqueror war, meant to keep the original slave raid/trade route shut down, so he can make a tacit alliance with the enemy sorcerers (trying to plant tame jinn along the route to make their own ‘dungeons’) to go smash the fantasy!Viking trade routes.

      Hm. Depending on where he goes and what he learns, he may push for a federation of clans to replace the {needs to research how Slavic kingdoms did royalty and nobility}. Might end up looking a fair bit like Norse politics, in the end.

      I think I need to have him find out about block printing, better crop cultivation, etc., so that he can make the need for a singular ruler less necessary.


  28. I strongly suspect that people aren’t not buying Fonda Lee’s books because these “dead white guys” books are on the shelves. If the dead white guys books weren’t on the shelf people still wouldn’t be buying Fonda Lee’s books.

    But she tells herself what she has to tell herself to get through the day.

  29. The bit about the reformed character giving all his wealth away reminds me of why, of all the versions of A CHRISTMAS CHAROL, the one I like best is the one with George C Scott. I have no idea if it was intentional, but his Scrooge is the ONLY one who comes across as not turning into a perpetual purchaser of ‘indulgences’ by GIVING. I get the sense that after a giddy week or two, he’s going to come to the counting house, turn to Bob Cratchit, and say something like, “Bob, we have work to do! What kind of business can we start that will employ a large number of the poor at good wages? And, mind, it has to make more money, so those jobs don’t go away!”

  30. Speaking of long dead white men that sell too many books, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we cold see a movement to dump the writings and ideas of long dead white cultural imperialist men like Marx, Rousseau, Alinsky, Zinn, and others?

    1. Tempting. But I’m of the opinion that a properly brought up young man or woman *should* know of these things. All the bright promises and beutiful futures promised… and the hell on earth brought about from those ideas.

      As someone (I forget who) once said, you don’t hear anyone openly advocating slavery these days. Why in the world are there still socialists that anyone takes *seriously* these days? *shakes head*

      1. One would think so.
        But for all their professed hatred of the philosophies of European White Men, the Left sure still clings tenaciously to the philosophical yammerings of European White Men. Especially those bastard Frenchie bastards.

        1. Is it to much to ask that if they’re going to listen to dead European White Men, that they listen more to Montesquieu and Locke and Smith, rather than to Rousseau and Marx and Gramsci?

      2. In Eugene where I live, there are a number of people wearing t-shirts that say “Healthcare is a human right.”
        The hell people are not openly advocating slavery!

        1. Health Care is a human right!!!

          For certain values of Health Care and of right. Self-administered treatment is unquestionably a right, so long as you pay for the meds. As we’ve a not unlimited supply of doctors’ hours, anybody demanding Health Treatment is stealing from others who that doctor might have tended in your stead.

          Being stupid is also a human right, but it does not obligate the world to underwrite your stupidity.

        2. “Eugene where I live” …

          Where in Eugene? Just curious. Need to know what parts of town to avoid … other than downtown, Franklin by the UofO …

          Haven’t seen the t-shirts personally.

  31. Your mention of “standing on the shoulders of giants and pissing down” reminded of something Hemingway is suppoed to have said or written about writing a novel is like getting into the ring with Mr. Tolstoy. (I think it was Tolstoy.) It also reminded me of the whatshername who won the John Campbell Award who said something about like “JWC was a fascist, but I’ll take this trinket anyway, thank you.” Incidentally, I am obviously a philistine since the Hemingway I’ve read made me wonder, “What’s all the fuss about?” The books make good movies, though.

  32. I’d contend the people in question understand all about “Demand”, they just lack any concept of how “Supply” and the interrelationship of the two have any relevance to the question.

  33. Unfortunately, what B&N does is probably not truly reflective of supply and demand. For better or ill, B&N’s ordering system has no reliable way to predict what people are looking for, especially once a book has been in print for a while. They can tell you that they sell “X” books by “Y” author over “Z” period of time, but that’s not necessarily a true reflection of demand out there. B&N can’t tell you what sales they’ve missed by not having book “A” on the shelves.

    From a technical perspective, B&N (as it exists today) is neither a supplier of books nor a consumer of books. Nor are they a true marketplace which would be governed by pure supply and demand. They are a middleman between the two, a distributor of books (and services and other non-book items). Their profit is determined by the difference between what they pay for the various items they sell (including any shipping/distribution costs) and the price at which they sell the item to the end consumer. To a certain extent, they are a curator, making predictions of what the public will want. To a far greater extent, however, they do not actively curate and tend to follow the herd and make sure they are stocking the books being pushed/supported by the various publishers. The fact that B&N may, from time to time, order inventory by the numbers last sold by the author in question is driven by mechanics like this.

    There are a variety of things B&N could do to change the paradigm. They tried with the Nook (and failed, largely as a result of their trying to mimic Apple’s device lock in). They could shift to some form of on demand/in store printing. They could try to leverage the fact that people want options by selling certain books on a consignment type basis (i.e. they only pay the publishing houses or independent authors for the books sold when they sell them). They can match Amazon’s efforts in identifying purchasing trends – last time you were here, you purchased “M” … if you enjoyed it, we recommend you check out “N” which we now have in stock.

    We will see if B&N tries any of things (and if B&N actually survives, which is unfortunately an open question at this point).

    1. Trust me, I get everything that is wrong with B & N. It’s the push model. They never abandoned the push model.
      That said, I doubt Tolkien is being pushed, so it must be how they make the margin.

  34. I’m actually kinda sympathetic to the poor gal. She’s been sold a steady diet of “This award and recognition matters,” when most of the time, it’s very much untrue.

    1. I might be, if she weren’t apparently blaming, not the folks who sold her that falcon, but the folks telling her that it is painted-over lead and not “the stuff that dreams are made of.”

      But it seems human nature to condemn those bearing unhappy truths rather than the vendors of lies.

      1. You’re not wrong, I just don’t think she’s managed to come near that part of the conversation yet. Doing so takes a pretty big jump.

  35. Slightly O/T question: Interviewing my aunt in 2008, I learned that circa 1958 she tried to break into publishing with a couple of 15th-century historical-romance novels. I found the manuscripts while cleaning out her house after her death in 2012.

    I read a few of her short stories — they sounded like something an over-educated upper-middle-class WASP girl would write — not good enough to get me interested in the novels.

    Nothing she wrote was ever published. According to the rejection letters, her first novel was OK but too long, so she shortened it, but they said “you can’t just outline events, you have to remove some of them, and all subsequent mentions of them, and rework plot lines that depend on those deleted events.” She tried to comply but the story totally fell apart.

    For the other novel, they said, “No one wants to read historical fiction that doesn’t include any actual historical figures”. Dead on arrival.

    What am I supposed to do with these typewritten manuscripts? I’d gladly unload the whole collection for $100 plus shipping if anyone wanted it.

    1. Get someone to put them in electronic format. Put them in Amazon for sale. If they don’t sell, no big, you did what you could.
      If they sell… some money.
      Definitely upload the longer version, though.

    2. Are you the executor on her estate? If not, then before you Amazon them, you probably better at least give that person a courtesy call, and get an ok. Otherwise, you may find yourself serving as an example of “If you want to know someone, split an inheritance with them.”

  36. “The Cold Equations”. Outstanding short story, and one that I can guess she never read. Or, if she did, mentally rejected and rewrote in her mind so that everyone survived.

  37. Thank you for speaking sense.

    I get annoyed with people who think they can dispense with Capitalism and replace it with Socialism, as if they are both economic systems.

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