End of World is at Hand! Agents Buying Lunch for Editors

Has it come to this? According to the New York Observer’s Leon Neyfakh, editors and publishing company executives are being asked to cut back on lunches. Neyfakh’s headline says it all: Publishing Bigshots Told to Open Canned Tuna, Eat at Desk

But it gets worse: some agents are splitting lunch bills with editors or – ohmigod! – treating entirely.

ICM co-head Esther Newberg suggested that maybe agents and editors could start splitting bills instead of saddling publishers with the whole thing as per tradition. “We’re all part of this economic crisis,” says Newberg. “I think that we can alternate. I think that would certainly be fair.”

I dunno. Most agencies are far from behemoths, and even paying the tip for the coat check attendant is likely to trigger cardiac infarction in any agent who as little as six months ago didn’t hesitate to order the three pound lobster without checking the menu for the price per pound. Another agent mentioned in Neyfakh’s article, Ira Silverberg, can see the handwriting on Le Bernardin’s wall. “We can get together and have a shawarma and sit in the park and talk about writers. The social time is really important, but what is not important is how expensive the food is.”

Shawarma? In the park? If an agent is asking $2500 for a cowboy novel, maybe. But soliciting a $5 million pre-empt for the hottest novel since Fear of Flying with shawarma grease dripping into your lap?

I don’t think so.

Nefakh debriefed some other execs about The New Frugality. Check out his article and learn who’s eating in the company cafeteria.


Richard Curtis


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