Friday, June 22, 2007

An interesting example of disintermediation

Gregg Olsen is a successful author of true crime books. He is also a blogger. His latest post is deeply pessimistic about the future of the genre in terms of sales and popularity.
He points to cable TV as one of the culprits.

But TV also stabbed the heart of the TC publishing industry. Think about it. All of the Gretas and Nancys and Geraldos have humped the life out of so many great TC stories, that splendidly crafted and well-researched books were never written about some of the greatest cases of our time. Thank goodness TV sniffed and turned up its nose at wall-to-wall coverage of the great crime cases of the recent past. There'd be no Small Sacrifices, Fatal Vision or In Cold Blood if TV existed as it does in its current state.
At first, I thought this an odd argument. After all, two of cable's great obsessions-O.J. Simpson, Scott Peterson-spawned a flood of books. In the comments he addresses this and clarifies his point:

The OJ and Peterson books were were written for the most part by people associated with the cases. I really can't think of one book that was written by an outsider (which is what most crime journalists are) that did much on the list. Instead, we had the constant parade of Laci's mother, Scott's sister, OJ's ex-girlfriend, the lawyers, the jurors... Each one popped on the Today Show then moved over to the cable junk and shilled their books. Trash, most of it.
This strikes me as one more case where intermediaries lose out as information becomes more democratic. The people in Kansas had to talk to Truman Capote in order to tell their story. Now, however, cable news can raise enough interest in certain stories that the insiders are the people who get book deals. The writer/outsider is left behind. The best sources won't talk because they have their own deal; the book-buying public wants new information, which only insiders can provide.

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