Scarcely had the year unfurled
When iPad swept into the world.
Compensation posed by Apple
Proved bewildering to grapple.
Big Six lawyers scratched their noddle
Parsing Jobs's business model.
Fretting that his precious Kindle
Market share would sharply dwindle,
Bezos took extreme exception,
Spoiled his e-book foe's reception.
Took his ire out on Macmillan,
Cast it in the role of villain,
Fired a broadside at John Sargent
Cost Macmillan beaucoup d'argent.
"Windowing" (as it was called)
Left countless bibliophiles appalled.
When publishers attempted holdback
Customers demanded rollback.
Ablaze with righteous indignation,
They engineered a demonstration:
With their mouses (mice?) they voted,
High-ranked authors they demoted.
No seemly wait would they allow–
"We want our e-books and want them now!
"You want my ratification?
"Don't mess with instant gratification!
"We won't pay for your MMPB
"'Cause we're entitled to a freebie!"
Andrew Wylie jumped the shark,
Leaving clients in the dark.
Went into the e-book game,
Odyssey his imprint's name.
Signed an Amazon exclusive
To Random's good will not conducive.
Jackal's e-book misadventure
Instigated Dohle's censure.
Publishers are not amused
When agent ethics seem confused.
Authors also get annoyed.
They like their agents unalloyed.
Musical chairs this year were chill.
Ain't a lot of chairs to fill! Still...
HarperStudio upped and died
When Bob to Peter Workman hied.
Perhaps he'd rather take his chances
With publishers that pay advances?
The pain for authors was as sharp
When Hachette bid adieu to Karp
Will his old imprint take a bath?
Twelve minus one—you do the math!
The prize for coolest move of all?
Bestowed on David Rosenthal.
Hired by the Penguin org,
Worked a few years at a morgue.
(Is there a poet could ignore
This made-in-heaven metaphor?)
Publishers expressed enchantment
With the notion of enhancement.
Audio, video, music, flix,
Bangles, baubles, bar mitzvah pix.
A tune or two was all it took
To constitute a mobile vook.
They tossed in every kind of crap
And designated it an app.
Though patriotic saws we spout,
We farm e-book production out.
"Made in USA" a myth,
Pick up the phone, you don't get Smith.
Continents and oceans spanning,
We outsource stripping, prep, and scanning.
In Mumbai, Agra, Cooch, and Mysore
Every proofreader is eye-sore.
Indians are making whoopee
Working for the Yankee rupee.
Conference operator Reed,
Seeing conference income bleed,
Hinted it might do away
With its shortened BEA.
Tried to merge with ALA,
That one fetched up DOA!
Expo suffers cataplexy,
Tools of Change a bit more sexy?
Now hoist a mug of stout libation
As we commence our peroration:
May all your e-books be enhanced,
Your acquisitions well financed.
And like a toddy mulled with schnapps
May every day be filled with apps.
Make sure you write upon your doormat
"Here we welcome every format."
And, like a ball festooned with spices,
A plethora of cool devices:
Kobo, Kindle, Nook,
Sony, iPad and... hmm, let's see, did I leave anything out?
Oh, yes, I almost forgot... printed book.
Richard Curtis is CEO of the literary agency that bears his name. He is also author of The Client from Hell and Other Publishing Satires, which includes previous end-of-year poems that have appeared in Publishers Weekly.