For the record, I’m an Alaskan hockey mom whose wardrobe includes outfits suitable for different seasons and climates in all 50 states. If the Republican National Committee wants to outfit their Caribou Barbie and family with a $150,000 wardrobe from the likes of Niemann Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, they’re going to have to come up with a better excuse than our climate.

In the flood of unhappy facts I learned about Sarah Palin after McCain added her to the Republican ticket, there was one nice surprise. The old Sarah shopped, at least occasionally, at an upscale consignment boutique in Anchorage. I’m a big believer in small shops, recycling, and consignment. No big surprise that the Republicans, in keeping with their reckless notion that we can spend our way out of any crisis, shopped big, spendy, and (dare we say) elitist stores to dress their champion of blue-collar “real America.”

In the book business, elitist equals literary equals small and low-revenue. The axiom is that authors might have to start small and, as their careers warrant, hope to jump up to big. In his recent post “Going From Small Presses to Big Publishers,” agent Nathan Bransford discusses the challenges facing authors attempting the leap from what some call “second tier” to the Big Eight (or whatever the number is today – companies get gobbled so fast it’s tough to keep track).

Yet many of the best books by Alaskan authors on Alaskan topics are pubbed by smaller independents, including the two I mentioned in yesterday’s post. Milkweed brought us Kanter’s Ordinary Wolves and Epicenter Wallis’s Two Old Women. The good news, according to Bransford, is that “as the big house publishing industry moves to a blockbuster model, small presses will increasingly fill the gap of really good, riskier books that the big houses are overlooking, particularly debuts. And inevitably, those small presses are going to be testing grounds for bigtime talents.”

Some of that talent likes where it lands and stays there. Even in a huge state like ours, we know that bigger isn’t always best.

2 thoughts on “IS BIGGER BEST?”

  1. Uhmmmm…Although I don’t share Palin’s politics I do share an affinity for NM and Saks Fifth.

    America’s all about choice. And if the populist choice happens to be Walmart, those who find some solace at Saks, Neimans or Barneys shouldn’t be labeled elitist.

    And that seems to be the tone in the press around this story.

    No one has criticized her look. But they rightly need to criticize how that look was funded.

  2. I’d definitely prefer NM and Saks to Walmart if I could afford to shop there. And I think that’s the point. Don’t use the Joe Sixpack image and then try to get yourself a big promotion with a wardrobe Joe or Jane could never afford. That’s the kind of hypocrisy that got Jonathan Frey in trouble, plugging fiction as memoir to snag a big contract.

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