May 31, 2005


Note to You Liberal Weenies -- Yes, the Right Really Can Write (Brian C. Anderson, May 15, 2005, LA Times)

Oh, how we conservatives once envied liberal writers. Just 10 years ago, liberal writers could propose a book on, say, how American capitalism stiffs the workingman or how the bourgeois family spawns injustice. Major publishers would respond by throwing oodles of money their way, or at least consider putting out the book. But pitch a critique of affirmative action or a defense of limited government and, unless your name was Buckley or Will, you'd be lucky to get a personalized rejection letter.

There was "a tremendous amount of marketplace and institutional resistance" to publishing conservative books, said Adam Bellow, an editor at Doubleday. The New York publishing world was a liberal preserve.

How things have changed. Over the last 18 months, three superpower publishers have launched conservative imprints: Random House (Crown Forum), Penguin (Sentinel) and, most recently, Simon & Schuster (Threshold, headed by former Bush aide Mary Matalin). Nor is that all. ReganBooks and the Christian publisher Thomas Nelson are putting out mass market right-of-center books, while mid-list conservative titles pour forth from Peter Collier's 5-year-old Encounter Books and several smaller imprints. There's never been a better time to be a conservative author.

What's behind the shift? Crown Forum chief Steve Ross thinks Sept. 11 made the industry less reflexively liberal. There's doubtless some truth to that. But what really turned the big New York publishers was the steady stream of bestsellers that Washington-based Regnery (my publisher) was producing, including Bernard Goldberg's "Bias," which spent seven weeks cresting the New York Times bestseller list. Sentinel's first year produced two New York Times bestsellers and Crown Forum published four, with Ann Coulter's polemic "Treason" reaching more than half a million copies in print.

One would like to think that the shift is at least partly a result of the fact that when you look back at the political writing of the 20th Century, the conservative texts remain quite readable and often pertinent, the liberal ones are uniformly embarrassing

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 31, 2005 4:20 PM

Looking at the liberal ones you sense that a few of the authors would be embarrassed about how wrong they were. But what is deeply troubling is that most on the list would be undisturbed and ready to up the ante if they could.

Posted by: Luciferous at May 31, 2005 5:37 PM

Exactly - they just increase the volume (like noted author Al Gore, who, many years ago, was almost considered a Southern gentleman).

The more "serious" writers just ignore what they said previously and belch out more nonsense. Kind of like the lefty websites these days, no?

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 31, 2005 8:56 PM

I remember picking up a book by some "woman" (he/she/it had had a sex change operation) explaining how the world should be run on socialist principles in 200 pages. I said to myself, are the publishers on crack? who would read such gibberish. I am sure the book sank without a trace and don't even remember the authors name.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at May 31, 2005 11:37 PM

At least the publishing world is a step ahead of the electronic media industry, which still looks at Fox News as the spawn of Satan, or Hollywood, which eschews its normal love of money over everything to make movies that please their friends but alienate much of their potential audience.

Posted by: John at June 1, 2005 1:19 AM