2018/08/01

Building Institutions

The following is my response to a reader who raised a number of thought-provoking questions prompted by yesterday's post. I thought it merited a post of its own.


Building institutions is what the Right does. The Left is incapable of building anything. That's why they only ever parasitize existing institutions. Most of the individualists and free market fanatics espousing the "Every man for himself" attitude are in fact Conservatives, whose ideological roots can be traced directly back to the Left.

What's gone unsaid in the current discussion is that an institution isn't necessarily a big building downtown with the company name in shiny letters over the door. The family is an institution. Christmas is an institution. Your D&D game that's been running weekly for ten years is an institution.

Institutions exist to serve people. If enough people believe a particular institution is of benefit to them, they'll give their time, treasure, and talent for it. Marvel, DC, and tradpub failed as institutions because they stopped providing value and thereby stopped justifying their existence.

Now, I just gave people with blind faith in the free market a hard time. But there's a difference between worshiping the market like an Aztec god and recognizing market forces as phenomena that emerge from the daily operations of human nature. Pursuing individual success in comics or SFF publishing and building something lasting aren't mutually exclusive. Marvel and DC were founded by entrepreneurs whose products attracted enough customers to make an enduring cultural impact.

Creating a lasting institution is a black swan event. Only God knows how to do it on purpose, and anyone else who tries finds himself in a situation akin to meticulously planning a party to recreate the fun and camaraderie of a bash that happened spontaneously the week before. You can't catch lightning in a bottle. You can only try to create favorable conditions and hope for the best.

That said, a quick look around the cultural landscape shows that new institutions are, in fact, emerging. #GamerGate looks to have the necessary staying power as it keeps dying and rising again. The Dragon Awards have already overtaken the Hugos. Galaxy's Edge is bringing on new writers to continue the story. The guys in #ComicsGate are seriously discussing forming their own publisher. God's mill grinds slow but fine.

As for people still believing the Left's propaganda, that problem is busily sorting itself out. Tradpub isn't in the storytelling business. They're in the lumber business. Their business model relies on their paper distribution monopoly, of which Barnes & Noble is the last vestige. B&N has had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel since they fired most of their receiving managers. When B&N dies, it will take most of tradpub with it, and no one's beliefs to the contrary will matter.


Take part in helping to build and sustain the new publishing industry. Support The Star Knight Saga: Reavers of the Void by author Bradford Walker today!

17 comments:

  1. Brian,

    You're on fire with these latest post. Really inspired

    I'll add that Lex creandi Lex orandi as Fr Z would say also structures institutions. In lay terms that's rites, rituals, customs and tradition. And i'm heartened that we're recovering them and creating ewe ones

    xavier

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  2. I suspect when B&N kicks the bucket, other places will pick up some of the slack. I doubt there will be a Big 5 after that though. More of a Big 1 or 2 if any at all.

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    1. Indeed. There will definitely be more mergers. The remaining publishers will cut all but their Cadillac clients and sell their books mostly through Costco, Wal-Mart, grocery stores, etc.

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    2. Kobobooks seems to have anticipated this and made a deal with Walmart to sell ebooks and the readers. I can'tell remember if it'still exclunive.
      If the Big 5 collapse that'll have global reprucussions particularly in Europe and the Mideast.

      xavier

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  3. Has the Big 5 shown any awareness or made any attempts to have something in place to deal with B&N closing? Do they think once B&N closes that Amazon won’t put the screws to them?

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    1. BooksAMillion maybe though I believe they are not as widespread.

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    2. No. They're going the way of the record industry when iTunes arrived on the scene. Penguin, Hachette, or Simon & Schuster should have invented the Kindle. Instead they circled the wagons to protect their paper distribution monopoly by jacking up eBook prices. That desperation move does appear to have increased print sales somewhat, but it failed to kill eBooks like they'd hoped. When B&N folds, look for Amazon to do away with agency pricing for the Big 5's eBooks. That will be the SMOD strike.

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    3. Durandel,

      They're aware but are stuck. Cf Mike Shatzkin idéolog.com for an insider's insider view of the whole revolution

      xavier

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    4. Durandel,

      European publishers are proof of what Brian says with the added bonus of dressing it up to protect bookstores as essential cultural industries

      I kid you not. In France the bookstores actually lobbied the govt to protect them from Amazon and limit it.
      In Spain, there's libelista.com which the customer can buy a book and have it sent to a local bookstore of your choice.

      Of course ebooks don't get the 5% discount that the govt gives physical books.

      And both countries publishing industries lament the low reading rates and ask the their govts to do something(tm)

      xavier

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    5. MegaBuster Shepard:

      Real life proof of Brian's point. Nate's latest post about a German publisher's ebook subscription service:
      https://the-digital-reader.com/2018/08/01/germanys-weltbild-launches-an-ebook-subscription-also-reminds-us-why-amazon-is-winning-the-book-market/



      xavier

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  4. I think you have a good response to my question. My only doubt is the idea that no one on the Left can create an institution; I think they can, just not a lasting one (because they are, to paraphrase the Lord, 'building on sand.') Am I splitting hairs? I don't know, but it seems to me that there are institutions that are built by Leftist (not the truly radical SJWs or the like, but still Left-Liberals) that, while they may not last more than a generation or two at most, can take many souls down with them in the time that they stand.

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    1. Matthew,

      Just to give you friendly challenge: name 1 institution tth left has built?

      xavier

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    2. By the standard used above? Virtually every pop/rock/punk/techno band/act of the last thirty years, excluding a few Christian or Country rock groups.

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    3. Those scenes are all close to dead now, nowhere near the heights they were at even 20 years ago. And they all refuse to correct course.

      If they had any foresight, the music industry would not be the a punchline it is today.

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  5. Matthew,

    Thanks! Were the Clash or Depeche mode leftists? I never listened to the Clash but Depeche mode never struck me as ideological. U2 not the early days but after Joshua tree they lost their way

    xavier

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    1. I've never heard of them, to be frank. I mostly listen to classical, or East Asian pop; if I am being bombarded by lyrics I disapprove of, I'd rather not be able to understand them. I have heard of U2, mostly because they backed the "Repeal the 8th" movement in Ireland, so in my book they are quite pathetic, no matter what their music sounds like.

      That being said, they might well not be--I was engaging in a little bit of hyperbole. Certainly Gene Simmons is at least a little Right-ish-Liberal... relative to most of the rest of the major movie/music producers. I wouldn't be surprised if there are in fact a few apolitical or other Right-ish acts out there, though my point still stands that the vast majority are Leftists.

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    2. 70s punk bands were just anti-authoritarian. It took til the 80s until leftists descended upon the genre to slavishly advocate for one political party. The Clash were no different.

      In many ways they were just another rock band. They fell apart because Mick Jones wanted to make money and be a pop band and Joe Strummer wanted to be an artist.

      Strummer cooled down tremendously later in life, but from what I've read of the time they were around he had a real fat head. Paul and Topper also treated fans like garbage. Jones was the one who treated it like a job and was the best with the fans. It was amazing these guys stayed together as long as they did.

      In related news, Terry Crimes also eventually became a Catholic, which is cool.

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