hey, don't we live in interesting times? back in that ancient ancient year of 2000 or whatever, way before ebooks blew up, the primary distinction between a good and fair writer (poor writers never make it past the agent) was whether their work came out in "mass market paperback" (those small, standardized books that almost all sci-fi and romance comes in, cheap paper) or "trade paperback," (identical pagination to hardcovers, usually varying in size; paper usually lasts more than a few years before yellowing).
Paper back writer (paperback writer)
Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It's based on a novel by a man named Lear
And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer,
Possibly because I have full internet access for the first time in days, this seems the most salient point to make. e-electronification of our lives have changed the book industry, but if you do nothing else but consider all 'trade paperbacks' probably vetted by a dozen people before publication, you're going to end up with... the argument for 4.
well... no feeling is absolute I guess. the thing is that Royte writes like a New Yorker article or a New York Times Sunday piece. it's forceful, it's direct, it's pared down by editors to get rid of sag and flab. Back Bay Publishers-- a Little Brown imprint. hence,
Random House, Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster
shucks you knew all the names already! but Bertelsmann, a German company, owns both Random House and Penguin. hence, the Big Six... is actually the Big Five.
(Hachette is French btw)
(if you want to get properly conspiracy-theory oriented, think about the fact that Franco-Germany owns Random House, Hachette, and Penguin. The Europeans are controlling your mind bwahahahahahah)