Monday, October 29, 2018

Sisters Brothers—The Movie

Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly

This weekend I saw Sisters Brothers. I write westerns, so I’m critical of Hollywood ventures into the genre. They often mess it up by leaning toward the politically correct or destroying the story with CGI. This time they got it right. The Sisters Brothers is a good western film worthy of the fine novel by Patrick deWitt. That’s saying a lot. Except for Lonesome Dove, most directors view a book as a loose guide, rather than a roadmap. (hint, hint)

Great Cover
The Sisters Brothers is a character study ... and a study of not particularly admirable characters. The appeal is in the dialogue and humor. Thankfully, there are few special effects to take the viewer away from the story. I might be tempted to think Hollywood has learned a lesson, but I suspect this is a one-off because the novel’s author is Canadian and the film’s director French. Leave it to foreigners to revitalize an American genre. Jacques Audiard keeps the film within the spirit of the novel and directs a true western without relying on grandiose landscapes, unhistorical duels, or CGI. He does include a lot of killing, however. After all, the Sisters Brother are assassins.

The film is rated 85% at Rotten Tomatoes. 

Here is the New York Times review.

Owen Gleiberman, Variety’s Chief Film Critic seemed more interested in virtue signaling than critiquing the movie, but here is his review as well. I find Gleiberman’s review interesting because it displays many of the biases which keep Hollywood from making more good Westerns.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

ebooks vs. print—Who Won

This weekend, I ran across this cartoon. At one time, everyone predicted the electronic books would supplant the printed variety. I think we can see the future and it's here. Every book format appears to have found its natural level in the order of things and percentage changes from this point will probably be in single digits.

I suspect my experience is representative of the industry. All of my books are available in print and electronic formats. Most of them are also available in audio and library bound large print. Although my books sell in every format, there are differences in the distribution of sales. 

My westerns sell overwhelmingly in the ebook format and are trending toward the subscription model. Voracious genre readers are perfect customers for books available inexpensively for a monthly fee. The mass-paperback industry has been pretty much devastated by ebooks. Audio books are also popular with genre readers.

Readers of my history books and historical novels prefer printed books. Large print books are popular with libraries.

It should have been obvious from the beginning that the perfect ebook market was mass paperbacks. A cheap, portable, and disposable reading format. But pronostators love to take a trendline and extend it to the stratosphere.

In truth, I don't care which format my readers prefer, only that they keep reading.