Sunday, 17 May 2009
Commission the right stuff
Why is it that even after a book has been reviewed in hardback, months later when it changes format into a paperback, it is once again reviewed? Has the book transmografied into a different story because it has changed format? I think not. There was an interesting piece in the Guardian yesterday about the death of literary non fiction and how publishers are bemoaning the onset of Celebrity autobiographies filling up bookshops between October and December. There seems to be some sort of allaince between reviewers and publishers that great works of non fiction that have taken five years to research, write and publish have a divine right to sell. They don't. Obtuse biographies of Oxbridge Dons who may have been witty and pithy within the cloistered walls of their colleges have no relevance in the retail world and will not sell. And when they don't. Don't belittle the great unwashed for their lack of insight into a great work. It never was. The commissioning of an unknown academic from your alma mater is bound to fail. Maurice Bowra may have been a great man at a drinks party, but the public are not interested. Period. I know it palls but get over it, enter the real world and publish books that are relevant, and guess what? They will sell.