As recently reported in USA Today books by authors EL James and Suzanne Collins account for 25 percent of all book sales. Two women writing two trilogies garnering a lion's share of all book sales? Coincidence? I thought so until I received a telephone call from Bruce Watson a private investigator who specializes in uncovering improprieties in the publishing industry. At first, I thought he was a nut but after talking to him at some length I agreed to meet with him at a place of his choosing.
He chose Chez Charlotte, a restaurant I had previously only read about. I looked at the menu. There were no prices listed. I knew it was beyond my company's budget.
LU: Why don't we just grab a cup of coffee at Starbucks?
BW: You publishers. Always on the cheap.
LU: Mr. Watson, I'm just a miniscule publishing company. Ergo, my name: My Little Publishing Company.
BW: Ergo. I love it when you publishers talk dirty!
[The waiter came to take our order.]
BW: To start, we'll have the Mosaic of Squab with Pickled Shitake, followed by the Duo of Monkfish Cheeks with Potato Boulangère and for dessert the Huckleberry-Fromage Blanc Vacherin.
Waiter: May I show you the wine list?
BW: No wine. This is a working lunch.
LU: Getting down to the subject at hand. What led you to believe that EL James and Suzanne Collins are sisters?
BW: Oh, it's pretty obvious. Collins was born in 1962 and James in 1963. Both worked in television. Both are married and have two children. Both are described as "down to earth and unassuming." Both part their hair on the right side.
LU: What about the fact that they wrote totally different kinds of books. Hunger Games is as far from 50 Shades of Grey as you can get.
BW: Did you ever see Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? It's the old good sister, bad sister routine. Rose Red and Snow White. Evil twins. Sibling rivalry. It all makes sense.
LU: Do you know this for sure, or is just conjecture?
BW: You're not talking to a moron, missy. I'm the one who knew James Frey's memoir was a lie from the very beginning. The title was a dead giveaway. I mean, A Million Little Pieces ? Not 743 pieces? Oh, no, this nice round memorable number. How convenient.
LU: O.K. let's say they are sisters? Why should I care? Why should anyone?
BW: I've followed your blog. I know you've got your fingers on the pulse of what's happening in the book world. I know how deeply you care.
LU: Well, yes, I like to think I do my bit.
BW: Then surely, you can see where this is going. It's the One Book One World conspiracy. The beginning of the death of publishing as we know it. This is goodnight Goodnight Moon, forever. Soon there will be just one big publishing company and then just one big book. And the business won't be big enough even for the two sisters. There'll be a high noon moment for them and it won't be pretty.
[The food came. It was amazing. And then, as night follows day, the bill arrived. Watson handed it to me.]
LU: I can't pay for this.
BW: They'll take a credit card.
LU: I'm maxed out on my credit cards.
[We were escorted into the kitchen to faites la vaisselle (wash the dishes). Which is when Mr. Watson shared another piece of inside information with me.]
BW:I have irritant contact dermatitis. These hands can't go near dishwater.
Editor's note: This post is intended to be construed as satire.