No more “vs.” – Okay?

Who remembers the old Spy vs. Spy comic strip in Mad Magazine? It was wordless, originally created by Cuban political satirist, Antonio Prohías, and pitted Black Spy against White Spy – very cold war-ish that, and definitely “of the time” in the 60s when the whole idea of a “spy culture” really began to take off. (Just in case you don’t have a clue as to what I’m talking about, here’s an animated version of MAD Spy vs. Spy.)

The point is that NEITHER SPY EVER WON! There was no right side or wrong side. Just two sides constantly trying to out-wit each other in a never-ending battle.

Reminds me of many aspects in the publishing business these days …

So that’s why I’m saying No more “vs.”!

No more Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing
(or Self-Publishers vs. Self-Publishers, for that matter)

No more Publishers vs. Authors

No more Indie Bookstores vs. The Chains or Online Sales sites

No more Genre vs. Literary Fiction

No more Print vs. eBook

No more Authors vs. Editors

No more Authors vs. Reviewers (those writing legitimate reviews, that is)

No more Author vs. Author (Thanks to Tim Baker for this one!)

No more Tenured (or Established) Authors vs. Debut Authors (just found this one in a headline)

No more Amazon vs. The Rest of the Publishing and Bookselling World (And that should actually be the other way around … because everyone seems bent on trying to beat Amazon at the side of the business the company actually invented.)

No more animosity. No more antagonism. No more “I’m right and you’re wrong” about the way things work, or don’t work, in this crazy business of ours.

The only two aspects that really matter are:

That the writing is good and the book is the best the Author can make it,
That the Reader enjoys the book.

That’s it! That’s all that matters. The rest just causes a whole lot of angst and frustration, not to mention bad feelings, between the various “players” in this book business, and it really does no one any good at all.

Least of all the Authors who are writing great books and their Readers who are enjoying them!

We’re not living in a comic strip, after all. This is real life.

So stop it with the “vs.” already! Get out there and try to figure out ways of producing, marketing, and selling books that will benefit EVERYONE – especially those Readers!!


Here are a few articles about some of the “vs.” situations I’m talking about:

From The New York Times: How Book Publishers Can Beat Amazon by Bob Kohn
From Digital Book World: Hachette Launches Dedicated Bookshop on
From The Passive Voice: Malcolm Gladwell ‘Surprised’ to Become an Amazon Bargaining Chip

But from what I’ve read so far, this is the best commentary yet on the situation, from David Gaughran on his blog, Let’s Get Visible: This Is The Kind Of Competition Publishers Want

So, what do you think? Have I missed any other examples of “vs.” in the book business that you’d like to see end right now? Wouldn’t you prefer that all of us become one big happy book family? Please leave your comments below.

4 responses

  1. You’re right. An awful lot of energy seems to get spent on the negative. Better to put that energy into the positive. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, JP!

  2. The only thing I can think of that you missed is “author vs author”. Authors shouldn’t view each other as competition. There are plenty of readers to go around…

    1. Right you are, Tim! Thanks for adding that, and thanks for reading!

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