January 12, 2019

"MacKenzie Bezos... started writing seriously at age 6, when she finished a 142-page chapter book titled 'The Book Worm.'"

"It was later destroyed in a flood.... At Princeton, she studied creative writing under the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison.... She spent a decade on her first novel, often getting up early to write... 'The Testing of Luther Albright,' which was published by Harper in 2005 and was widely embraced by critics, tells the story of an engineer whose professional and home lives begin to unravel.... In 2013, Ms. Bezos published her second novel, 'Traps,' which follows the journey of woman named Jessica Lessing, a reclusive film star, as she emerges from hiding to confront her father, a con man who has been selling her out to the paparazzi for years.... But Ms. Bezos’s literary career may have been complicated to some extent by her high-profile husband, who has done more than perhaps any individual in recent history to transform and sometimes destabilize the book-selling business.... Some independent booksellers refused to stock Ms. Bezos’s novels.... [I]f Ms. Bezos continues to write and publish, perhaps she could find a more receptive audience among independent booksellers. Some publishing executives, who declined to be quoted on the record, spoke gleefully, at least, of the blockbuster potential if Ms. Bezos decides to write a memoir."

From "Who Is MacKenzie Bezos?/Her divorce from the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has made this novelist, and her private life, a public fascination" (NYT).

ADDED: What does MacKenzie Bezos care about the "blockbuster potential" for anything? She is on track to receive half of the $137 billion fortune she and her husband amassed. She will be the richest woman in the world. The challenge for her is — I would think — to maintain a motivation to do serious, valuable work. Why would she cater to the appetite of drooling publishing executives? It would make more sense to use her money to disrupt the whole publishing business.

I MEAN: Re-disrupt the whole publishing business.

65 comments:

Robert Rogers said...

The book industry was terribly run up and down the supply chain. If you don't want your industry disrupted, running it competently might be a good start. It might not work, but you don't have to make it so easy for them. Publishing industry, music industry, newspaper and magazine industry. No one deserved it more.

tim maguire said...

“A public fascination” is a bit of an exaggeration, no?

Shouting Thomas said...

Seriously disrupting the publishing biz would mean ending the reign of almost entirely white feminist editors, agents and publishers.

It would mean publishing for men, not to improve them, but to produce literature they want.

MacKenzie Bezos is the powers that be, the oppressor running the show. What in the world would she have to say that would be disruptive?

Darrell said...

I'm fascinated.
I have half a mind to write her to request her soiled undergarments. I bet she can find a way to send them via Amazon Prime Next Day Shipping.

Shouting Thomas said...

Here's the constant contradiction of feminism.

Feminist women are almost always rich white women with hereditary wealth or rich husbands.

Feminism is always about more stuff for them. Which Althouse, a rich white woman, likes to portray as revolutionary and disruptive.

Laslo Spatula said...

"MacKenzie Bezos... started writing seriously at age 6, when she finished a 142-page chapter book titled 'The Book Worm.' It was later destroyed in a flood....."

Convenient flood, it wiping out her proof of being a prodigy and all.

The flood drowned the dog that ate my homework.

I am Laslo.

rehajm said...

I wrote a script, and I gave it to a guy who reads scripts. And he read it and he says he really likes it, but he thinks I need to rewrite it. I said, 'F**k that, I'll just make a copy.'

- Mitch Hedberg again

Mr Rogers said everything I would say and more. Is there a pack of nits anywhere more sour than independent book sellers? If Amazon was so disruptive you wouldn’t have a place to not stock MacKenzie’s books.

EDH said...

In other news, MacKenzie Phillips is still alive, I just looked it up.

She wrote a book too.

Sara D said...

Off topic. Happy birthday professor Ann, I hope you have a wonderful day. I "found" you via Powerline in 2009 and have enjoyed your blog ever since

gilbar said...

she seems pretty. I'd Totally marry her

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Sara!

Darrell said...

Happy Ann-Iversary!

Darrell said...

A chapter book or chapterbook is a story book intended for intermediate readers, generally age 7-10. Unlike picture books for beginning readers, a chapter book tells the story primarily through prose, rather than pictures. Unlike books for advanced readers, chapter books contain plentiful illustrations. The name refers to the fact that the stories are usually divided into short chapters, which provide readers with opportunities to stop and resume reading if their attention spans are not long enough to finish the book in one sitting. Chapter books are usually works of fiction of moderate length and complexity.

Explains why she couldn't be arsed to replicate it.

Robert Rogers said...

Yes. Didn't realize it. Happy Birthday Prof. Althouse!

rehajm said...

Is this the birthday thread? Happy Birthday, Ann! Best wishes and continued success. I will not obligate you to retire at 85...

sinz52 said...

More than Apple, Amazon created the modern self-published book.

You no longer have to go to publishing houses to get your book published. Conservatives and the radical left always used to complain that publishing houses were biased against them. Now they have no excuse not to self-publish their books. You can use desktop publishing tools to produce professional-quality books.

True, a big publishing house could publicize and promote your book and get it into bookstores and elsewhere. Today, the way to promote your book is through social media. That's how bestsellers like "Fifty Shades of Grey" became successful--self-promotion on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

rhhardin said...

It's an amazing-wife genre story.

rhhardin said...

Then there's the story of the women who had to write under her husband's name, and George Carver inventing the peanut. It's a history, but a modern genre of it.

Hagar said...

The media are jumping to concussions again.
The Bezos' may well split up amicably with Mrs. Bezos receiving an adequate competency, but no share of the business.
Wait and see.

rhhardin said...

The great Amazon play was sending every customer a book of 1 cent stamps when the first class postage rate went up one cent.

Loyalty you can't buy, that you can buy.

Kevin said...

Is it worth more to her to write a tell-all and receive the adoration and royalties?

Or to not write the tell-all and maintain her privacy, Amazon’s reputation, and stock price?

AustinRoth said...

She has been part a fantastic wealth for a long time now. Why would the fact that it is now directly hers change her motivations to write?

Famous writers keep writing even after achieving success on their own.

SGT Ted said...

Modern feminism simply exalts shitty behavior of women and calls it "empowerment".

Michael K said...

The Bezos' may well split up amicably with Mrs. Bezos receiving an adequate competency, but no share of the business.

Marcia Lucas got a very generous settlement on condition she not publicize her role in the movies that funded it.

She has vanished from public life to raise her child..

Temujin said...

She could buy Jonathan Franzen to be her personal writer. No need to get up and do it herself.

Kevin said...

Happy Birthday, Ann! May you continue to blog as long as you can do it full steam.

#AnnAlthouseIsNotACop

AllenS said...

MacKenzie is going to be getting a lot of money. Let's pressure her to fund building the wall. She'll still have over a billion dollars left. How much money does she need, anyway?

SGT Ted said...

Happy Birthday, Ann. Lang may yer Lum Reek!

Otto said...

Ann pleading for Mackenzie to do something noble so that feminism isn't ridiculed. After all she became the richest women in the world by lying on her back for a man and that just destroys the foundation of feminism.
Somehow i think a lot of women have flourished because of their husband's providing financial stability one way or another. You don't see stories of a women making the big bucks going solo from the start.

Sebastian said...

"the $137 billion fortune she and her husband amassed"

You mean, the fortune her brilliant husband created by building an amazing business from scratch.

Paul Zrimsek said...

So independent booksellers are doing their ordering based on personal grudges rather than on what their customers might want to read? Can't imagine why their business is in trouble.

PB said...

Retain motivation? 2 books in 14 years?





tim in vermont said...

Makenzie Bezos is back on the market? Look for Beto O’Rourke and John Kerry to be duking it out for her affections.

campy said...

So does Jeff share credit for her books like she does for his business?

Ron Winkleheimer said...

2 books in 14 years?

That was my first thought too. It not like she couldn't devote herself to writing full-time for the last couple of years. Its just not fashionable to reply "jack shit" when asked what you are doing with your time at parties.

Freeman Hunt said...

There are already more great books than one can read in a lifetime. She's welcome to relax.

Yancey Ward said...

Perhaps she can write something that gets mentioned on Twitter by someone followed by Barack Obama's gardener.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

She is pretty hot though. She has kept her figure.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

The first two years that Amazon was in business if you ordered anything from them they would send you an Amazon branded insulated go-cup. I am an IT nerd bibliophile, so I had two of them. Lost one though.

johnhenry100 said...

I read a lot. Probably 2 books a week on average for more than 55 years.

I used to love bookstores. But my love for bookstores was mainly predicated on their size. Independent bookstores, with some exceptions, tend to be small, pokey, places with limited selections. When Borders and B&N came along with their mega-bookstores, I loved it. I could spend hours browsing and could always find interesting stuff.

Then came Amazon which was like a megabookstore. Finding stuff to read was easy. If I knew what I wanted, search would give it to me immediately. If I was just looking for something to read, they had plenty of recommendations for me.

Borders and B&N could sort of do this but not as well.

Now we have Kindle. I can not only find stuff to read, I can download and read it immediately for free. If I like the first chapter, TOC etc, I can pay for it. Or I can just leave it on my Kindle (phone & tablet) for when I am looking for my next book to read.

I've haunted bookstores for decades. My idea of a good time in a new town or city was to find a bookstore and browse. Big chains, small independents, used bookstores if they sold books I'd give them a look. I don't recall ever finding this mythical staff or people who love and know books. Typically they could direct me to the History section, or help me find Donald Westlake. If I was looking for a specific book they could look in their computer and see if they had it.

But giving reading recommendations? Helping me find something interesting to read if I did not know a specific author/title? I don't recall that ever happening.

I love Amazon. If all they sold was books, I would still love it just as much. I especially LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, the Kindle system. Readers (Kindle and non-Kindle), books, formatting, recommendations, sampling, delivery. Nothing I don't love about it.

The $50 Kindle fire, which I carry when traveling as a backup, is a particularly marvelous device.

Thank you Jeff Bezos and all your team. You are like gods to me. I am in your debt.

Disruptor? More like saviour of the book industry. If not the publishing/bookstore industry.

John Henry

Ron Winkleheimer said...

When Amazon announced that they were going to start selling stuff other than books I thought that it was a crazy idea, that it wouldn't work. Thus, Bezos is a plutocrat with evil overlord amounts of money and I am a lowly IT drone. If I had that kind of money I would have friken sharks with laser beams on their heads.

johnhenry100 said...

Ron, I never got a cup. I did have, or had, an Amazon mousepad with a Groucho Marx quote "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Instide of a dog it is too dark to read anything."

Probably in the late 90s. Since I have never used a mouse, I would never have bought a mousepad.

John Henry

rhhardin said...

I still at this instant have my mouse on the amazon free mousepad. A bit worn, is all. It's atop H.A.Rey The Stars A New Way to See Them, which is slanted into an open top leaf drawer on the desk, the perfect ergonomics for a mouse. Being perfect, I've never changed it.

Robert Cook said...

"It would mean publishing for men, not to improve them, but to produce literature they want."

Aren't there already enough Executioner and Jack Reacher novels (and the many, many others of their ilk) to satisfy "literature men want" (sic)? Knowing your penchant for Miller, can't you just reread the Rosy Crucifiction Trilogy, and the two Cancers?

johnhenry100 said...

I've published 7 books so far. All available via the Ann's portal. I'm also working on 3 more at present.

One I published through a large technical publisher. CRC Press. I had researched what a publisher should do, contracts and so on before signing on with them. They did everything that I expected of them, when and how I expected. I have zero complaints about anything they did or are doing.

Another, a reprint of Henry Ford's 1923 autobiography, I published through a vanity publishing house. It cost me $500 but they too did everything expected.


All the others I have published through Amazon's CreateSpace www.createspace.com I doubt that I will ever publish another book other than through CreateSpace. Certainly not through a legacy publisher.

Here are some of the differences:

I wanted to make a couple of minor changes in the CRC book when I got the galleys. They would have delayed publishing by 6 months. They weren't significant and I let them go.

When I got my proof copy of the Packaging Machinery Handbook, not galleys but a bound copy exactly the same as would be sold, I didn't like the font style and size. I went to my file, changed the normal style, made a few minor changes in formatting and within a couple hours had sent the revised file back. I had an online proof copy in the morning, approved it online and the book as in the Amazon bookstore that evening.

CRC pays me a 10% royalty twice a year. Other than that I have no idea how my book is doing. CreateSpace pays me a 35-70% royalty on paper copies. (Depends on whether it is sold through Amazon or other channels). I can see sales/royalty figures by channel and by US, Europe or Britain almost in real time. and I get deposit to my bank the last day of each month.

CRC copy edited my book for me. They did a good job but it was strictly for grammar, punctuation, spelling and such. Again no complaints.

For my Handbook I hired a person with 20+ years editing and packaging experience. She not only copy edited, we spent a lot of time discussing how understandable I was, she caught a few technical errors and overall made the book much better.

I can buy author copies of the CRC book at a 10% discount. In other words, about what I pay if I buy from Amazon but I don't pay Amazon shipping. I am not allowed to sell author copies, for example at conferences.

My Machinery Matters book, a collection of articles that I published mainly to give to clients instead of pens or calendars, costs me about $2/copy. I buy 20-30 at a time to give away. Ditto Rich Frain's and my book on buying packaging machinery. He buys them by the case and gives me a dozen or two whenever I ask.

Amazon doesn't care what I do with author copies. I can sell them, give them away whatever.

I used to go to Office Max and get handouts, mainly PPT decks, copies and comb bound for my workshops. They cost me $10-12 each. Two of my CreateSpace books are these handouts. They look much nicer and cost me about $3 each.

Plus, since they are available on Amazon for $49.95, attendees think they are getting a real bargain.

Printing a book on CreateSpace is fast and easy. I could upload a new book today and have paper copies by Wednesday. There is no cost at all to do this.

Ann, You have written a lot over the years, you could collect this into a book and publish it. I'd probably buy a copy.

As I said before, Jeff Bezos and his team is like a god to me. Totally awesome.

John Henry

johnhenry100 said...

For anyone interested, 2 of my books are available for free download here. I'm happy to have you buy them but just as happy to give them away.

Machinery Maters 10 years worth of articles and columns

Secrets of Buying Packaging Machinery with Rich Frain A step by step process for buyng machinery. It's focused on packaging machinery but the process will work equally well for buying any kind of manufacturing equipment.

https://www.fraingroup.com/ebooks/

John Henry

YoungHegelian said...

She will be the richest woman in the world. The challenge for her is — I would think — to maintain a motivation to do serious, valuable work.

Serious, valuable work, such as importing & maintaining at peak perfection the finest stable of "pool boys" to be found in the Free World.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

ren't there already enough Executioner and Jack Reacher novels

I prefer "Casca, The Eternal Mercenary" and "Remo Williams, The Destroyer" myself.

YoungHegelian said...

@Robert Rogers,

The book industry was terribly run up and down the supply chain. If you don't want your industry disrupted, running it competently might be a good start. It might not work, but you don't have to make it so easy for them. Publishing industry, music industry, newspaper and magazine industry. No one deserved it more.

You have no idea how fervently I nodded my head in agreement with this. Especially after having worked for years now selling computer hardware and software as an adjunct to my services, it amazes me when I look back at how bad the distribution chain was for books & music.

I mean, if I get an order on Monday, and my distributor has stock in the New Jersey warehouse, I can get the order to my customer's office by Wednesday at the latest without fail. I sometimes think to myself "Why couldn't I get books from my favorite bookstores like this?".

robother said...

Happy Birthday, Ann, and also to your separated-at-birth twin brother, Rush Limbaugh.

elkh1 said...

Poor Jeff, loses billions to become not the richest man on earth, to pay for a not-pretty mistress.

Question: is Bill Gate the richest man on earth again?

PS: most of the settlement would be Amazon stocks, yes? So the ex-wife would share Jeff-ass's loot in perpetuity, yes?

johnhenry100 said...

My understanding is that Bezos has very little personal wealth outside of Amazon stock. Plus Blue Origins and WaPo if they are worth anything.

Not much income either and damn little from Amazon ($89,000/yr or so)

If she doesn't wind up with Amazon stock, I don't know what else there is.

John Henry

johnhenry100 said...

If I were Bezos, and assuming she has the right to 50% of all assets anyway, I might offer something like this:

60% of all Amazon stock (vice 50%) but McKenzie gives Jeff a proxy to vote her shares in perpetuity. Also, perhaps some restriction on selling shares.

Maybe she sells off a billion worth. That would give her, after taxes, a nut generating $50-100 million a year. Between them they would still own 16% or so of the company and Jeff votes 16% of the shares.

Bezos really seems to care little about money. His main interest seems to be running Amazon. The proxy's might accomplish that.

John Henry

Unknown said...

"Books men like" go beyond Jack Reacher. Currently "harem" books are big in self-published fantasy, as are LITRPG books (books about people living in worlds based on role playing games, or actually living inside RPGs). Some of them are pretty good too. Women aren't left out, "reverse harem" (1 woman with many lovers) is also popular in fantasy now, and again, some of them are pretty good.

Most of what I get recommended now is self published, and when I see a HarperRandomPenguinHouse e-book for $15, I get astonished that anyone would buy a new author at that price point..

Christy said...

Hasn't the Amazon Review been transformative?

I remember a long ago article in Slate, or maybe Salon, about how it was Amazon that revitalized the public interest in Shackleton's long forgotten Endurance. Some guy wrote a review about this old book that generated enough interest that we ended up with at least two movies, a mini-series, and a PBS special nearly a century later.

Most of us know how to recognize and discount the agenda driven reviews. I've found them to be invaluable.

buwaya said...

At age 6 my daughter wrote a 26-page story (and it was a pretty densely written manuscript) about a cat.

I am hoping this is a predictor for her fortunes in later life. I hope the scale formula is closer to linear than asymptotic.

walter said...

Blogger elkh1 said...
Poor Jeff, loses billions to become not the richest man on earth, to pay for a not-pretty mistress.
--
Hmmm..not quite. She is plenty attractive.

walter said...

Ron Winkleheimer said...If I had that kind of money I would have friken sharks with laser beams on their heads.
--
Musk is working on that...

Fritz said...

walter said...
Blogger elkh1 said...
Poor Jeff, loses billions to become not the richest man on earth, to pay for a not-pretty mistress.
--
Hmmm..not quite. She is plenty attractive.


I want to know if those are natural or if she ordered them from Amazon.

Does Jeff get to claim half ownership of MacKenzie's literary accomplishments?

Freeman Hunt said...

She will be the richest woman in the world. The challenge for her is — I would think — to maintain a motivation to do serious, valuable work.

What is serious? What is valuable? I'm fine with the leisure class sitting around engaging in leisure. Fabulously wealthy people trying to maintain images of being serious and valuable to prop up the image of meritocracy is tiresome.

If she actually has something serious and valuable to do, she can do it. If not, being a good neighbor and leisuring are fine. There are all kinds of interesting hobbies one could take up.

Freeman Hunt said...

"I have to appear as though it makes sense that I have billions of dollars, that I am worthy of them."

No, you don't. There is no such thing as being worthy of some amount of money. Both wonderful people and horrible people have money. Trying to be a wonderful person is for everyone, not only the rich, and it's in no way contingent on doing anything career-oriented or starting some foundation where you sit upon your golden throne and dole out dollars like a king. If you can invest in things that create jobs, that's great. If not, maybe spend lots and spread it around.

Marcus said...

She studied under Toni Morrison? Then her work must have really sucked.

Give her The Washington Post. Run it like a real newspaper. Fair and balanced except on the Op-Ed pages.

I written and published one book; I have ghost-written one and edited another. You would not be interested in any of them. I write daily. MAYBE my grandchildren will someday read what I wrote this morning. It doesn't matter. I love to write. Painters paint. Musician play and compose, if they wish. I string words together and it pleases me. I don't care about what others think. Now, as a chef, I do care what they think of my final product. Usually it is positive. That makes that profession worthwhile.

THEOLDMAN

Mark O said...

EXCLUSIVE: The marginal utility of a billion.

Fritz said...

Give her The Washington Post. Run it like a real newspaper. Fair and balanced except on the Op-Ed pages.

Then she has to get an extra billion on her "half".

Zach said...

It's a little weird that a low-key publicity tour is now a recognized step in the divorce process.

Remember Maureen Dowd's profile of Anne Wojciki?

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/18/style/anne-wojcicki-23andme-genetics.html