Friday, April 4, 2008

Stratemeyer Syndicate, Part II

Whoa - I didn't realize Mr. Stratemeyer had a fanboy out there, but it's nice to meet you, Keeline. Rather than reply in the comments section of the earlier post, I figured I'd hit the topic here, so it won't be overlooked.

My comments about "syndicate" sounding evil was clearly an error on my part. I probably meant "Syndrome" from the movie The Incredibles. Those two words sound the same to me. My bad.

Let's talk about Wikipedia for a moment. I explicitly cited it as a source, although it wasn't the only one I used. I do that because it (like any other source) could be wrong, although Wikipedia's quality is remarkably high. But if it's wrong, I'm curious why Keeline hasn't fixed it. I checked 5 minutes ago and the page is not locked, so you don't even need to log in to Wikipedia to make changes to that page (although Wikipedia would prefer that you do log in and identify yourself).

More to the heart of my posting, however, is the production approach used by the Syndrome (I mean Syndicate). Perhaps the contracts and payments were all first-rate. Perhaps the secrecy wasn't as widespread as Wikipedia made it sound. But there is something downright industrial about the way the books were written - formulaic plots, lengths, etc... even down to making references to the latest technology of the day. This approach continues, and the new series has frequent references to things like websites and email. VERY frequent. Annoyingly and artificially frequent. As in, "Look how modern and up to date we are" frequent. So I had some suspicions before I found the Wikipedia article.

Now, the industrial model of production does convey a certain type of efficiency and even a type of success. Nancy Drew is a successful series, in the sense that Twinkies are a successful product. And yeah, I don't buy Twinkies for my kids. I'd rather see them eat grapes.

Similarly, I personally know there are a lot of "organic" writers out there, producing excellent childrens' books that are genuine works of love. The quality of their storytelling is high, although their "market penetration" is low because they don't have an industrial marketing machine behind them. I'd rather have my kids read those kinds of books, both as a matter of principle and as a statement of my belief in the quality of small-scale indie publishers.

3 comments:

Kim said...

Cool. I was looking forward to your response. :)

I'm glad to learn a new word: fanboy. I wondered if there was such a term!

I like both Twinkies and grapes. Obviously one is more nourishing than the other, but I admit that sometimes a Twinkie hits the spot.

Mark said...

So are you saying that Stratemeyer guy was also the genius who figured out how to get the delicious cream filling inside that fluffy golden cake?

I'd better go update the Twinkie page on Wikipedia...

The Dan Ward said...

Fanboy is such a fun word - I like it because it's not derogatory (tho I could be, I guess). It just sounds happy and enthusiastic.

I like the occasional bit of junk food myself, of course. And there's nothing wrong with the occasional Twinkie. But given the opportunity to choose something for my wee ones, I'm going with the healthier option - in terms of music, books, food, etc.