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The ag plan for a bumper crop of writers

With the book publishing world facing the same demons of layoffs, declining sales and fewer readers as the newspaper business, author Paul Greenberg offers this suggestion: a bailout for writers.

Greenberg writes with humor (dark humor, for a family like mine with one author and one newsman) in the upcoming New York Times Review of Books.

Rather than hiring writers like FDR did in the 1930s, though, Greenberg suggests buyouts, more on the agricultural model. Pay people not to produce.

This isn’t a new problem. He quotes best-selling novelist Ann Beattie, who wrote in 2002: “There are too many of us, and M.F.A. programs graduate more every year, causing publishers to suffer snow-blindness, which has resulted in everyone getting lost.”

Says Greenberg: “That Ann Beattie must now compete on Amazon with a self-published author named Ann Rothrock Beattie is proof of how enormous the blizzard has become.”

Would his plan require oversight? Certainly. Look at AIG. Greenberg has a proposal for that.

And how much would it take to get some authors out of the market, so others could prosper? He has thoughts on that, too. Check it out now, or wait for Sunday, when you can read it in a newsPAPER.

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