Wednesday, June 4, 2014

James Patterson & The Pool He Peed In

James Patterson is one of those homogenous, androgynous, benign, uninspired writers whom legacy publishers adore. He's an easy bestseller because his simplistic yarns and lackluster prose appeal to the masses. And he's willing to take a small cut of each book's profits because he sells a lot of books, so he still makes a ton of money and his publishers probably take him out to eat a lot. The legacy publishers spend a lot of dinero promoting Patterson's questionable skills, which, by the way--sour grape alert!--would be sneered at by even the students in most freshman creative writing courses.

Patterson's a bad writer. His prose just lies there like wet noodles on dry linoleum.

Anyway, this wet noodle, albeit rich wet noodle, is out to get the government to shut-down Amazon and thus save Barnes & Noble and other bookstores. Personally, I think most bookstores suck. They have for years. Bookstores used to be where I went--no, virtually lived in--to find the new, the different, the challenging, the quirky, the subversive. As a teenage reader residing in the banal hinterland, I used to walk out of my local B. Dalton bookstore in Columbia Mall in Grand Forks, North Dakota, grinning like the cat that ate the canary.

I'd found something that really rang my bell and inspired the holy crap out of me. That took me far, far away from my shitty job at McDonald's--far, far away from the sugar beet fields.

The run of the mill new bookstore is no longer the place to find the kind of stuff that makes small town boys want to run away and join the French Foreign Legion…or even just become writers. The place to find that stuff now, the stuff that will inspire you to sing and jump and read late at night under the covers by flashlight...or on on Amazon.

Amazon is the home of virtual publishers and novelty publishers heralding new voices that the legacy publishers would turn their noses up at, because their bean counters in monkey suits would tell them to. Amazon is the home of virtual as well as small, print publishers who are also bringing back the neat old stuff that somehow slipped through the cracks over the years. I'm thinking in particularly of Stark House Press. I devour everything they put out. Publishers like that make me feel like I'm thirteen again! I want to join the French Foreign Legion…or at least swill beer and read on my patio till late in the night!

There are tons of publishers like Stark House out there now. But believe me, you won't find them at Barnes and Noble.

Only at Amazon and sometimes, if you're lucky, the Barnes & Noble website.

Now, there are some people who are just fine with the James Patterson-style authors of the world. Those are the only authors many people will ever read. And that's fine. But don't diss Amazon. You can find him and Dan Brown and all their ilk on Amazon, too.

So, to you, James Patterson, who have made a very good living churning out just the kind of stuff your readers want, shut the fuck up and let us more creative and imaginative folk get ripped on something really GOOD now and then.

Why do we all have to swim in the shallow end of the pool you peed in?

Here's the wonderful J.A. Konrath's take on it, which I like a lot: Newbies Guide To Publishing


  1. Oh so true. I too miss the thrill of finding unexplored treasures. About once a month I used to drive thirty-eight miles to the nearest city, making a day of visiting several bookstores, with lunch in between. Always brought home a nice pile and a sense of satifiction. Miss those days.

  2. Exactly my own experience, Randy. That was so damn much fun.

  3. I had lost my enthusiasm for my favorite genres, thinking that I was ready to move on to something else. But then my husband gave me a Kindle and I downloaded a bunch of free books from authors I'd never heard of, and katy-bar-the-door! Yes, a few of the books were stinkers and a few more could've used some editing, but my take-away was the realization that my favorite genres had been sanitized to the "big book" concept to the point where you couldn't tell one book from the next. I'm loving all the new voices in western and western romance that NY publishers had decided I wouldn't buy. Because you know what? I do buy them.

  4. God, you make me soooo proud! Can I plagiarize your article and insert Danielle Steele's name where you have put Patterson's?

  5. Great post. I prefer Amazon to bookstores, too. I go to Half Price a lot because they have a much better selection than B&N for instance. But mostly I buy from Amazon.

  6. I miss B. Dalton, back in the day that's were I'd purchase my Westerns. They had a super cool manager, who would grab the last books on new releases for me, keep them behind the counter till I'd come in and she did this for a bunch of regular customers. I do love Half-Priced books, they remind me of the old days with how Book Stores were back in the day.
    Couldn't say it any better regarding Patterson, Mean Pete. What a dumbass since he's one of the top sellers on, don't get how he is totally clueless not to realize that amazon does it better than B&N and has them beat. They just don't stock what sells at the moment like my local B&N does, have yet to go on amazon were they didn't have the book I was looking for and what a goldmine with the all the Kindle books they make available for us to enjoy.