Boycott James Patterson
Sep. 27, 2011 8:47 am
Updated: Oct. 18, 2011 3:34 am
Ok, now that I've successfully wandered off the reservation, I've freed my muse to wander at will.
It all started innocuously enough, a couple of off subject novels, a few co-authored diddys, then slowly but surely over time, Patterson has become a publishing empire. In my nearest Chapters, (think Barnes and Noble), Pattersons interests occupy a full 5 foot
rack, 8 rows tall. He now has his own section. There's Fiction, Mystery, Romance and..... Patterson. This in and of itself isn't a huge problem, the guy has branded himself and it's worked. The output from Pattersons publishing method is profound. I'm guessing
that a new Patterson branded book is released about once a month, maybe more. When you consider that most authors publish around once a year, Pattersons novel mill style becomes astonishing and it's working. As mentioned, Patterson Branded stuff now occupies
an entire section. Nearly everything on the shelves bearing Pattersons name now, has an unknown co-author listed, Maxine DePaetro etc...(by the by, DiPaetro is becoming fairly well known, just by virtue of being a Patterson co-author)
I have visions of Patterson going to work each day in a shop filled with desks and busy author wannabees, carefully looking over the shoulder of each and suggesting a phrase here and a turn of events there. I betcha I'm not too far off. The result of this is
that where once Patterson penned stories about his hero Alex Cross, he now releases co-authored stories of love and romance, science fiction, fantasy etc. To what end I ask? Is he just using his name to help new authors into the game? If that was the case,
then why is Pattersons name HUGE and his co-authors tiny? I do not think it's all about being magnanimous. I am starting to believe that for Patterson, it's an attempt by him to see how big he can get, how much publishing power and clout he can amass.
So? You so far might be thinking so what? I'd likely think the same thing if it wasn't for one little thing. The novels are bad.
I'm a prodigious reader, at least compared to the population at large and it's hard to keep my shelves stocked with stuff I haven't read without buying Patterson branded books. For a long time, I didn't try to avoid them but what's been happening is that every
time I'd read a Patterson branded novel, I'd feel cheated. Like I ate a twinkie I thought was a carrot. (There's the food reference!) I've been a regular buyer of almost all things Patterson and slowly, with this massive publishing ability he's assembled,
the books being churned out are formulaic and empty. I bought one of his latest co-authored efforts, Daniel X. Patterson claims he wrote it for teens. I thought, so what, the Maximum Ride novels bear the same claim and they've been sort of ok (more on this
later). So I bought it and, like the Maximum Ride novels, its a cool sci fi concept, a likeable character with a good voice and I finished it in 45 minutes.
Yup, 3/4 of an hour. Am I such a speedster? Naw, I read pretty fast but 45 minutes is a reflection of the books contents. It was nothing, a cheap fast read with barely enough content to make a story, formulaic and flaky. Further, this sort of novel has about
as much chance at succeeding with teens as uniform haircuts. As written I'd qualify it as a pre-teen novel, barely that given how scanty it was.I paid a full 10.00 for the paperback. I can buy a 1400 page novel for about the same price and get hours of reading
enjoyment out of it. Pattersons Daniel X (co-author Michael Ledwidge) contains 269 pages. Of that 269, only 213 are part of the novel, the balance is an excerpt from a NEW Patterson branded effort. So, 213 pages of novel, but wait, there are 90 chapters. Yes,
you heard right, 90 chapters. You might be thinking, wait a minute, thats about 2 or 3 pages per chapter and thats exactly right. I we filled up all the blank paper in this novel, we'd have perhaps a 120 pages. This is typical of what you will get when you
buy any Patterson branded novel now. I should say though, I'm so ticked at the guy, that I don't even look at the new Alex Cross solo efforts he's published, so they may in fact be as good as what he originally wrote.
Again, in and of itself, this cheap hack of a novel isn't enough to villify Pattersons publishing empire. The problem is, this effort is merely one of that entire rack in my nearest Chapters. An entire rack filled with cheap garbage. As an avid reader, I will
often come to purchase anything by a trusted author without consideration. It's a Stephen King novel, I buy it, Lee Child, etc..Patterson was on that list too but no longer. I've a limited budget for buying novels and I've nary a dime to waste on cheap junk
which, Pattersons novels have become. Yet, he's managed to displace 20 or more other authors in my nearest Chapters. Ban him why? Because the last thing in the world that we want is for other novelists to imitate this style, branding themselves and monopolizing
entire sections of a book store with an output so marginalized, so diluted that it's a ripoff for anyone who buys one. Imagine the Baldacci section. I'm a big Clive Cussler fan and he too is already well on his way to following in Pattersons footsteps and
he too is starting to get a bit shallow but sells so well, that he's published anyhow. (truthfully though, a shallow Cussler isn't completely unusual) It's a terrible trend and despite how nefarious it sounds, I really think that we as consumers have a responsibility
to say NO to this junk. Ban this seller, stop buying his junk. A guy puts out one novel, well, he's Dean Koontz, we forgive him and we move on. If he puts out 20 novels, hes James Patterson and I'm all done going aww that's ok. Especially when I stare at
that big rack in my local Chapters and imagine the wealth of authors that aren't there because Pattersons brand is working so well.
There, I feel better.