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Are book publishers blockbustering themselves into oblivion? - The Globe and Mail
RUSSELL SMITH
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Nov. 28 2014

Whatever they mean, they certainly cannot mean a shrinking talent pool.

So they must mean that they are not, in fact, interested in the real talent pool, or in a wide variety of literature. What they are looking for are bestsellers, which tend to be particularly narrow kinds of books. Most of the gargantuan advances that have made headlines in the U.S. recently are for science-fiction and fantasy books. Every publisher is looking for exactly the same book – basically, they are looking for The Hunger Games again and again. When they say “quality,” they mean “mass appeal.”...But in concentrating on bestsellers to the detriment of other literature, the publishers are simply following the model of all the entertainment industries. Providing an eclectic variety of entertainments to please a diverse audience, as the free Internet can do, just hasn’t been lucrative for the conglomerates that own film studios and recording labels. They are in constant search of blockbusters.

As they grow larger and concentrate their efforts and investments on massive, sure-fire hits – the next Marvel movie, the next Taylor Swift album – the cultural landscape seems paradoxically smaller. It becomes even more difficult to get an indie film made – the huge projects suck the oxygen (financing, distribution, media coverage) out of the biosphere.

In following this larger trend, book publishers are shortsighted. By reducing their involvement in original and challenging art, they relinquish literary fiction to the tiny presses and online magazines, and so become artistically irrelevant and, in the long run, uninteresting even as suppliers of entertainment. Pursuing mainstream popularity with ever-larger sums of money is ultimately self-destructive....Yes, such high-mindedness is all very well for someone who doesn’t have to keep a money-losing, employment-providing company afloat. And Le Guin’s vague rejection of capitalism is not a solution to the immediate problems facing publishers. But her point about taking the long view – about concentrating on valuable literature for the sake of the industry’s general health – is surely a practical one as well.
books  publishing  Russell_Smith  literature  blockbusters  art  short-sightedness  conglomerates  indie  winner-take-all  Amazon  writers  long-term  self-destructive  talent_pools 
november 2014 by jerryking
A Paler Shade of White
October 22, 2007 | The New Yorker| by Sasha Frere-Jones
indie  music  blues  soul  music_industry  race  culture  racism  business  hip_hop 
august 2011 by jerryking

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