The Jackal in the Hermès Suit

Andrew Wylie, the literary agent known as “The Jackal,” sat down recently for one of his always delightful interviews with the New Republic’s Laura Bennett.

Literary agent Andrew Wylie and his alter ego

Literary agent Andrew Wylie and his alter ego

Among the many zingers (“If one of my children were kidnapped and they were threatening to throw a child off a bridge and I believed them, I might.” –on what it would take for him to sell a book to Amazon Publishing),  there was some tough love for the book industry that felt to me like a breath of, if not fresh-smelling, at least refreshingly honest air:

The biggest single problem since 1980 has been that the publishing industry has been led by the nose by the retail sector. The industry analyzes its strategies as though it were Procter and Gamble. It’s Hermès. It’s selling to a bunch of effete, educated snobs who read. Not very many people read. Most of them drag their knuckles around and quarrel and make money. We’re selling books. It’s a tiny little business. It doesn’t have to be Walmartized.

It’s not a travesty that not a lot of people read books–it’s just true, and it’s always been true.  So why not leave the “Fifty Shades of Grey”s of the world to the people going after those elusive profits, and serve your small audience the very best?

Rage on, Jackal.

One thought on “The Jackal in the Hermès Suit

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