I think of Philip Roth, at least as he appeared in that article that Remnick wrote about him in the New Yorker a few years back. He has done his thing. He’s married his movie star. He’s post sex. And he is just going to be the monk of literature and by God, hallelujah, I’m glad he is.
Most titles on a publisher’s list lose money and sell at most a few thousand copies – editors are perpetually searching feverishly for the elusive bestseller to subsidise all the flops. It is a winner-takes-all business. Occasionally, there are windfalls from foreign or film rights, and backlists provide a degree of long-term income. But even giant trade publishers only make 5 per cent operating margins, despite spin-off benefits and global scale at multi-media conglomerates like Bertelsmann, News Corporation, Pearson and Time Warner.