Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How will Obama's election impact publishing?

I keep hearing Nina Simone singing

Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Reeds driftin on by you know how I feel

Its a new dawn
Its a new day
Its a new life
For me
And Im feeling good

Obama promises a great deal -- not the least of which is hope. Yet, it goes without saying, that he's taking leadership of a nation that is suffering from a tarnished image abroad and fighting a foundering economy. But if we take the seemingly beleagured publishing industry as an example -- how may times have book publishers been counted down-and-out -- whether by CD ROM, the Internet, or now, ebooks -- then we know American will be fine.  

Booksellers are already wondering if the Democratic government will make it easier for employees to unionize. A few publishing people have started to weigh in as well -- notably, Michael Hyatt, president and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, says he is willing to give Obama a chance. 

I'm curious what effect -- if any -- do you think Obama's election will have on publishing? 

I'll answer the most obvious question first: Will there be a raft of Obama-related titles? Some, I think, but not nearly as many as the Bush administration produced. Writers tend to work best in opposition and Bush certainly served up lots of material. I do think there will be numerous foreign journalists now clamoring for a post to the US to document, ala Tocqueville, what will be seen as a radical shift in American thinking. (I'm talking to you Bernard-Henri Levy). Otherwise, I'm not so certain Americans have more of an appetite for more political navel gazing.

Tell us what you think.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Obama,

I do not know who you are or what you plan to do as president. I watched all of the debates, many of your speeches, and researched your political history. I watch 12 months of intense news coverage of you across many publications and broadcast networks. All I can deduce with regards to your political philosophy, based on your actions as reported, is that you appear to be a very liberal minded person. However, some of your rhetoric during the campaign was much more moderate. Nearly all politicians in my lifetime have pandered and adjusted their positions to serve their goals for the position they are in or seeking. These are not unique issues for a candidate, alone they are common place and of moderate concern to me, a fiscal and social conservative. However, when coupled with the unique doubts your background must raise for any fair-minded citizen, I have to question how you plan to live up to your promise to be my president.

Your refusal to clearly answer serious questions about your circle of friends and associates is as troubling as the facts themselves. You have had dinner a domestic terrorist, written a blurb for his book, and worked with him on projects. I can understand perhaps the working with them, I am not sure I would go running out the door of my company if I found out one of the other employees had a criminal background. However, I would not lavish them with the honor of my presence at their dinner table. Mr. Obama, why do you think it acceptable to break bread with a domestic terrorist? Does the time since his evil acts somehow in your mind make it ok? Why would you write a positive note for one of his books? Also, why would you dine with a man who is a spokesperson for the PLO? This is the same PLO that straps explosives to their young people and women, who then blow themselves up murdering innocent civilians in markets and schools in Israel. You claim to be my president?

Why would you lie about your pastor? Why would you say that you never heard his hate speech? You never knew about these sermons? I do not believe that for a second. Why would you defend your wife saying that she has never been proud of America until now? I understand that you love her of course, but speaking honestly about your opinion regarding something that shocking would not betray that love; it would however have been and still would be the right thing to do for the county you claim to love and the people you want to lead. Are you also not proud of America? Why would you insult middle class conservatives? Are you offended by guns and bibles? Do you want to take them away from people? Do you think someone of a fundamental faith inferior to yourself? Mr. Obama, I do not know who you are and why you deceive and avoid issues.

Do, you want to spread the wealth? Do you want to spread my paycheck, Mr. Obama? Would you like to take more of the money I earn by working every day, 10-12 hours a day? How much do you want? Is 40, 50, 60% enough for you? Who would you like to give it to? Who should decide who gets it? Do you think it is my money or the government’s money? What do you believe? What do you consider a right? A home, healthcare, good food, a car, a job? Should I pay for you to give these things to everyone that can not earn them on their own? I do not know, and yet you want to be my president.

I have been listening to Seth Godin’s newest book, Tribes. In this book he theorizes that in today’s world people are not as interested in products that have storied, long, proven histories. Rather, today consumers are looking for new and exciting change, looking for products that are different and represented by radical figures/leaders. I believe you have benefited from this phenomenon. You are older than me by 3 years, and I am sure you have a rich life story. However, as it relates to being a commander of the largest military on the planet and leader of the US government, I do not understand your qualifications. Your speeches sound impressive, and I listen intently and with as open a mind as possible, but I honestly do not hear anything. Your speeches are vapid to my ears, I hear words without meaning. I walk away empty and disturbed. You said last night that you had been campaigning for the Presidency for 21 months. If that is the case, how then Mr. Obama have you really served any significant time as a US Senator? I do not wish to insult, only to convey my concern to the man that claims to be my president. Last night, you said you hear my voice…I am talking and wonder if you can truly hear me.

You want me to believe in you as my president. But, I am deeply concerned that the American people have put their trust in an idea and an image, not in you. Even my friends who voted for you, and there are a great many of my circle that did, admit they rolled the dice on a vague notion of hope and undefined change. Perhaps you will be wise enough to put aside any radical ideals you personally hold and lead from as centrist a position as humanly possible in order to move this country forward. Perhaps you are intelligent and skilled enough to rise above what many see as a critical lack of experience. Perhaps you will be a great uniter and world leader and not a radical change agent for leftist ideas. Perhaps.

You ask me to believe in you as my president. For now, I have to say “No, I can’t.” For the country’s sake, and for the hopes and dreams of a planet, I sincerely from my heart hope you can.