PAUL: September’s been better.
DOUG: September is always better.
Everyone’s back. People are reading.
Almost makes one hopeful.
Almost. (THEY BOTH LAUGH)
They can’t all work.
No they can’t.
There will be some misses.
I just hope ——— isn’t one of them.
PAUL: What do you make of Quinn?
Best bartender in New York.
That’s a given. But that’s not what I was getting at.
What were you getting at?
The bowties? They’re like his thing. His calling card.
You don’t think they’re a little gay?
No. (BEAT) They’re like Minz’s red cons.
Heartbreaker. That guy was a fucking reader. He may be the only staffer at that paper for whom that can be said.
Now they’re all gone. Memmott. Wilson. Donahue.
She was solid. Her pieces sold books. (BEAT) What’s her new gig?
Writing for the coveted eighty-plus demo. Workin’ for that old stoner Love.
Jee-zus. (BEAT) This new media order makes no fucking sense. (BEAT) Bezos at WAPO.
Guys at the paper say he is the real deal. Pumping in resources, money. Giving them runway.
Then where is their beat reporter for book publishing?
Good question. (BEAT) Maybe that’s an industry El Jefe would rather not cover.
Until all this shit blows over.
Well. That could be decades.
Right. (BEAT) Bob Thompson.
Think about it: even the industry assholes.
Gone. (BEAT) Inside dot com.
Oh my fucking god. How could I forget those guys?
Our world, foretold.
Nelson the nemesis.
Carr the crusader.
Andersen the avenger.
He was a founder, right?
Yup. Andersen. Hirschorn. They had juice. And capital. Inside was a multi-million dollar enterprise.
Those guys dug.
You couldn’t duck ‘em, that’s for sure. They had their sources. And they knew the fucking business.
So what happened?
I think it was mostly bad timing. And Brill.
Interesting how they’ve remade themselves.
Shiny new internet brands. All of ‘em.
Carr. That guy. I remember running into him in the greenroom at the New York Public Library. He was sitting with “mister we’re going to make the lions roar,” showing off a new toy. I’m there for a Remnick event, bored out of my skull, Carr’s in the corner, playing on the device, and everyone in the room keeps staring at him, wondering what the fuck he’s playing with. Turns out it’s an iPad. Apple had just released the things, and of course he’s got one. He’s sitting there swiping, smiling, clearly in awe. I walk over, introduce myself, ask him what he thinks. He looks up at me with those hollow eyes and says, “This is the death of kindle.” Like some kind of prophet.
He said that?
Those were his exact words.
Nelson at Amazon. Who saw that coming?
Last place in America I would’ve pegged her. She’s too amped up for that place.
I know. Odd fit. But she is a reader. So I guess it makes some kind of sense.
Makes her an outlier there. Readers are no longer a priority for that company.
They were at the outset.
That was twenty years ago. Kerry. Tom. Tim. Gone. (BEAT) Listen: there are some good people embedded in the company. Book people. But you get the sense from all of ‘em that there’s a clock ticking in the background.
Once they’re vested they’re out the door.
Well. I think they would if they could. But it’s not that easy. They’re all bound up in a lot of legal bullshit. (BEAT) You know what I hear?
That the place is joyless.
I hear the same. We didn’t have a rep for a while. They couldn’t find anybody who wanted to work there.
That could be their Achilles heel. Not the tax issues. Not the showrooming. Not Authors United. But instead the toxicity of their internal culture. (BEAT) You know what else I hear?
That the place is sexless. No action whatsoever.
Really. (BEAT) That is like the worst thing ever.
Among the many reasons I could never work there. (BEAT) Seven Days.
Seven Days. The Magazine?
I don’t remember Seven Days.
You don’t remember Seven Days?
Drawing a complete blank.
Glossy weekly. Broadsheet. Same physical skin as Variety.
Nothin’. (BEAT) Might’ve been before my time.
You’re older than I am.
What is that shit?
Moss was the editor.
Of Seven Days?
Yes. Published 102 issues. Famously gave Mehta the shank in one of them. Our man had just arrived in New York. The ink wasn’t even dry on his passport. And they go and publish a total hatchet job. Had an army of OTRs. (BEAT) Now look at Moss.
Running a respectable magazine.
You know the funny thing about our business?
People never leave.
No they don’t.
They get sacked and, boom, the next day, someone is out to them with a job offer.
To run a magazine.
Or an imprint.
Or a fucking division.
Or to go work for some online rathskellar.
With snacks and stock options.
It’s the same cast of characters.
Over and over.
Unless you drop dead at your desk. That’s really the only viable exit strategy in publishing.
Or going to work for Amazon.
Now what’ve we got? Those douche-knockers at GalleyCat.
Right. Shatzkin. That guy.
Same barber as Halpern.
Journalism has been subsumed by internet prophets.
And their doomsday prophecies.
McQuivey. That piece of shit. Makes bank as an industry consultant, then decides to publish with Amazon. He spoke at our last AAP meeting. Gave a talk about how these closed ecosystems were the future. After his talk, they opened up the floor to questions. I raised my hand, asked him point blank: “How’d your book sell?”
What’d he say?
What do you think he said? He refused to answer the question.
Shirkey! What a pain in the ass to have to even consider that guy. All his fucking posts. “There. Will. Be. No. More. Physical. Papers. Print is dead.” And if you’re a journalist and not reading the tea leaves, well, then you deserve to be on the unemployment line. “Learn about data,” he says. BLAH BLAH BLAH. “The only reason papers are still afloat is because of coupon inserts.” In short, there is only one future: digital.
He’s a freedom fighter.
“I study the effects of internet on society.” And his conclusions are all positive.
Someone has to be paying him.
Oh he gets funding for sure. (BEAT) You know the only positive outcome of the internet?
Uber. Everything else sucks.
Open floor plans. Who the fuck came up with that idea?
They’re trying to make our industry more like Google.
They give us open floor plans, which we didn’t ask for or want, but none of the shit we actually need.
Like stock options.
Or pension plans.
Free snack stations.
Kloske ziplining through the office. That would be fucking cool.
With a bone dangling from his lips!
You know what the problem is?
They’re modeling our business on industries that have nothing in common with our own.
Editors need a fucking door.
Editing is not community building.
The C-suite guys don’t understand this. They believe our companies have to be invested in community building.
And that internal communities help dev external communities.
They want us all in fucking pods.
Holding hands. Trust circles. Prayer falls.
We should send them an editing pictograph: manuscript, pencil, desk, and door.
The door is key. If I was an editor and they took away my door, I’d be like, fuck you.
An editor needs a door when they’re reviewing their post-publication P&Ls.
Being on the short end of two or three mill every year can’t feel very good.
No it cannot.
Companies keep tabs on that shit. I bet they run all the post-publication P&L numbers through a giant supercomputer in Geneva.
One that spits out little red dots all over Manhattan.
Jee-zus. Can you imagine what that looks like? A giant fucking hematoma for every editor in New York.
Galassi at FSG: minus 3 mill.
Arthur at Hachette: minus 4 mill.
Burnham at Harper: minus 5 mill.
Karp at S&S: minus 10 mill!
That’s because he took over Jeter’s contract!
I hear S&S is putting a “2” on the back of their colophon.
That’s a lot of fucking dots on the grid.
The publishing industry must look like a red supernova from outer space.
Imagine those guys on the soviet space station, “Vat is dat ved glow comink from New York?”
“I tink it iz de end of book publishink.”
When did it all get so mean?
I don’t know.
The entire business feels like war.
Amazon versus Hachette.
The conversation about digital royalties.
Being graded out by the man.
Internet trolls intent on capsizing careers.
Threats directed at writers.
Book reviews. (BEAT) I was talking to ——- the other day, and he said reading Michi’s review felt like having his head, arms and legs chopped off by ISIS.
There is no need for that kind of review.
Why not just spike the thing and drop in an ad for Mohan.
Big Mo! (BEAT) Who buys his fucking suits?
I don’t know.
Jim Dwyer should write a piece about that guy.
Is there an actual Mohan?
I don’t know. We should ask Quinn. He’ll know.
Hey Quintano. (QUINN WALKS OVER WITH A BOTTLE OF WOODFORD AND TOPS OFF THEIR DRINKS) Question for you.
Is Mohan a real dude?
QUINN: Mohan Ramchandani?
You talking about the tailor?
So Big Mo is an actual guy. (DOUG AND PAUL RAISE THEIR GLASSES, TOAST)
QUINN: He has a fitting studio on 42nd Street. A lot of the clientele shops there. You should visit, Doug. You’ve got a bit of a stoop shoulder. He specializes in that kind thing.
Fuck you Quinn.
QUINN: Just sayin’.
(BEAT. QUINN WALKS AWAY)
That guy knows everything.
Even, apparently, anatomy.
Where were we?
Right, right. Critics forget about the human dimension in all of this. A book is not simply an object. A book is an extension of the person who wrote it.
I know authors who have wept after reading some of their Times reviews.
If a critic is going to post shit like that, at least give the writer a chance to respond.
Seriously. They should make an evening out of it. Host it at the Times Center. Michi could read a review, opposite the author in question.
What about Dwight-ski?
Dwight could read Caitlin Moran aloud to his daughter.
And then his daughter could be interviewed by a shrink!
We could get Tony Scott moderate: “Would a director have made the same choice, Haruki, leaving the element of rape so opaque?”
The audience could ask questions.
And at the end of the evening, everyone casts a vote.
“Critic versus Author. Only at the Times Center.” People would definitely turn out.
I guess. A little too fucking earnest.
That’ll change. Give her time.
One lunch with Rubin.
Little Stevie! Oh my god. Can you imagine?
We better warn her.
Cader is solid.
He knows more about publishing than our chairman.
He should be running a company.
He is smooth. (BEAT) You know what he does well?
Monetizes paranoia. Think about it. What is the subtext of every conference he hosts?
Our imminent obsolescence.
Exactly. People are spending thousands of dollars to be told they have no future.
Do you think it’s true?
Of course it’s not true. But the scary part is that it feels true. (BEAT) Nothing delivers in the same way that it used to. Not the Times. Not the Journal. Not even those communistas over at NPR. All year we’ve had campaigns with those assets baked in, with every fucking follow you can imagine, and at the end of the day, crickets.
Legacy outlets are doomed.
The Times doesn’t even have a fucking newsroom editor anymore. They blew up the masthead and replaced it with an infield.
Volatile industry. Dwindling streams of revenue.
You keep making decisions like that, it becomes self-fulfilling.
Our problem is we need the kind of reporting newspapers no longer deliver. We need outlets that are committed to readers.
That commitment only comes with ad dollars. Dollars that are getting harder to find. It’s been a click driven business for nearly a decade.
My point is that you have to put a stake in the ground. You have to commit to journalism. (BEAT) Do you know what generates the fewest clicks in the pantheon of online news?
I do not.
Yes. Absolutely no engagement whatsoever. The digital guys know this. They look at the analytics. And then they run their numbers up the masthead. The next thing you know, the masthead guys send in some twenty-something McKinsey pinhead to convene a meeting: “Our product needs to deliver engagement. In the absence of engagement, there is no product. We are putting kills on sections that don’t pull. And, let’s be clear here, your section isn’t pulling. There is no demand for book reviews. I’m sure this has been true throughout history. Do you know why? Because book reviews are fucking boring. So we are spiking the section.”
Farewell My Lovely.
That’s what happened at the Observer.
And they were one of the last. The kill has already run through all the major metropolitan dailies. (BEAT) Do you know what the most read section of the TBR is?
Their bestseller lists. That’s all people want to know.
What about culture?
Lists are the culture.
You wake up one day, and Eric Schmidt’s nine rules for emailing has become a fucking lede.
What does he say?
About email. What are his rules?
Rule number one is “respond quickly.”
Jee-zus. You’d think the guy who invented the internet could come up with something better than that.
Reviews don’t sell books anymore.
Maybe they never did. Maybe now we simply have data to back it up.
I can’t buy into all the doom and gloom.
I can’t afford to buy into it.
Print will endure.
The best digital content will demand a print iteration. And good writing, wherever it appears and in whatever format it takes, will find an audience.
Do you really believe that?
No. But it feels good to say it. (BEAT) Listen: there are some examples out there. Companies building out auds by committing to readers.
Garden and Gun. They’re bucking the trend. When every other publisher in America was cutting pages and issues, they were diving in. They had a bumpy start for sure, but look at ‘em now. Solid editorial product. Great brand presence. Aspirational lifestyle, one they’ve been able to monetize.
We have a three-book contract with them.
I heard. Mur-ster should give the edsy that signed ‘em up a big fucking raise.
The first is coming this fall. Good Dog.
I bet you sell a ton of copies.
You think they’re making any money down there?
Gotta be. Circulation is on the rise. They have a good website. And their store curation is excellent. I was poking around on the site last week and wound up dropping five-hundred large on a Hulme gun case.
You know what they need at the Times?
A shooter. A guy who can take down a twelve-point buck. They need Nelson Bryant.
Absolutely. Less tennis. More fucking hunting.
They should get Ford to write a column.
Exactly. (BEAT)You know who I miss?
I bet you do.
What is that?
“I bet you do.”
You, my friend, had a crush on Bosman.
She was a good reporter. We did a lot of business. End of story.
Did you read her stories from Ferguson?
That’s what I mean.
Hold on. (PAUL BEGINS TYPING INTO MOBILE AND SWIPING) Listen to this sentence: “For about four hours, in the unrelenting summer sun, his body remained where he fell.”
It’s very good. Think about what happened. This was a huge story. You have a son. I have a son. This was someone’s son. Good journalism does more than report. Good journalism makes you invested in the story.
You know what your problem is? You can’t see beyond appearances. You see a woman. I see a byline. I read the sentences.
I stand by my original assessment. Anyway, here’s to Minz.
Cheers. (THEY RAISE THEIR GLASSES, TOAST)
You know who else wears bowties?
Dude, I wear bowties.
I’ve never seen you wearing a bowtie.
Well I don’t wear them on the golf course.
When do you wear them?
When I go out.
When do you go out?
I go out all the fucking time.
Events are not just a function of PR. We host events in sales. We call on accounts.
What accounts? You have no accounts left to call on.
Fuck you. (BEAT) What do you think about Dunham?
Dunham will be big.
Bush will be gigantic. People love him.
They should do an event together.
Can you imagine? “Daughter of New York in Conversation with a Son of Texas.”
What would they say?
Bush would have a lot to say.
I think he would. People underestimate that guy.
Where is the common ground?
Well Driver was a marine, for one.
And he’s kind of buff. Bush goes for that kind of shit.
You ever worry about your enemies.
Company enemies. Industry enemies.
What are you talking about?
I’m talking about business. Everyone in business has enemies.
Think about it. You’re basically suggesting forty-three is gay.
Total misread. Not suggesting he’s gay. Just sayin’ he likes marines.
Listen: I’m sure I’ve pissed off a few reporters in my time. And possibly a few writers. But I don’t think I’ve made any enemies.
I think your social media presence is questionable.
What about ‘em?
In what sense?
In the ‘fuck, fuck, fuck’ sense.
You mean the language?
Yes. The language. The lingua franca. It needs to change.
This is how people talk, Doug.
That may be true. But it’s not what companies want to hear from their employees. And it’s not just the language, by the way. It’s the shit you post.
You forget what business we are in. Publishers, as a rule, celebrate words and truck in free speech.
That was then. This is now. Speech has an applied cost. What you say. Where you say it. Who you say it to. All grounds for dismissal. (BEAT) I’m sure people are aggregating your material.
People within your own company.
You betcha. Some German gangbanger has a rich dossier on you, my friend.
Think about it. Have you ever met a German with a sense of humor? There was a poll published several years ago. The Telegraph ran a story about it. Their conclusion: Germany is officially the world’s least funny country.
They might not be funny, but apparently they are creative. Our parent company just sent everyone a 30-page report called “Europeans are Creative.”
I have no idea why. I guess they wanted everyone to know that Germans like to paint. And read poetry.
Was their anything about their sense of humor in the report?
You see my point then.
We have some nice Germans at our company.
I’m sure that’s true. And I’m sure they will be very nice when they ask you to pack up your desk and escort you out the door.
I blame my father.
For the swearing.
Great. Put that on your LinkedIn profile: “Language deficient. Father swore. A LOT.”
That’s not all I do.
No it’s not. You talk about drinking. And your attractions. Let’s leave aside the fact that you’re married.
These are significant issues. People are invested in their attractions to other people.
No one cares about your attraction to Molly Ringwald.
I care about my attraction to Molly.
Molly is happily married.
To a fucking Greek. Someone named Papio. You think that’s going to last when all of his assets wind up at the bottom of the Aegean?
We are off topic.
(ASIDE) He probably doesn’t even know who John Hughes is. You think he grew up watching ‘The Breakfast Club?’ No he did not. (BEAT) Did you read her story collection?
We published her story collection. Of course I read it.
“The only thing equal to the enormity of his want was his regret.”
Great. Keep on the Molly thing. I’m sure a lot of good will come of it.
I met her.
You told me. At BEA. She gave you a hug.
I’m just sayin’. She was nice. (BEAT) How’d her book sell?
I don’t fucking know.
You think she would sign a book for me?
Why are you such a prick?
Donna keeps selling.
That book is going to have another huge Christmas. Mark my words.
That book is keeping Hachette afloat.
How are things at home?
Good. (BEAT) You gettin’ laid?
Not enough, mind you.
So what’s next.
Shit. Nothing ever sells in October.
What’re we gonna do?
QUINN! Two more!