Cover Story: Susan Isaacs: The Insider Interview
That's gone—people knowing your taste—and it's been replaced by algorithms. So it's a great loss. But I think it's gotten people reading again.
Tell us about your readers, how you get to know them, how you interact with them?
● This book [her latest, Goldberg Variations] came out October. In November I did Jewish book fairs. It was women my age and younger—fewer older. I used to be getting: 'My mother told me about you and I didn't want to read it but I did and I love you and you're wonderful.' Now I'm getting: 'My grandmother told me…' I'm getting many more women than men. I'm used to women and some gay men [as fans], but now I'm getting younger men because they're not afraid to read a novel with a woman's name on it, and they used to be. Two male authors whom I cannot name both said to me basically the same thing: 'I read you even though you're a girl.'
But I think what men don't expect from women—and what other women don't expect from women—in terms of fiction is humor. It's only been the last 10 to 15 years that it's become acceptable for women to be funny without being kind of homey—being funny about the little daily things of life. Wit is acceptable.
Are the big six publishers in danger of becoming obsolete?
● Not obsolete, but they're in danger of becoming the big three. I think they'll figure something out but I think sooner or later they're going to get competition. Just as they missed the boat so far with ebooks. So you have people who are visionary [she mentions Open Road's Jane Friedman], but I can see a bunch of writers getting together and creating a United Artists, publishing themselves and not splitting 50-50 with an Open Road or whatever the percentages are for other companies. Publishers have downsized so much that they can't sell their frontlist. How the hell are they going to sell the backlist?