Saturday, November 1, 2008

On Bestsellers

I ran across this bit in a book by historian Jeremy Black titled Rethinking Military History, and while it describes his experience with that end of the publishing field, I think it's well worth repeating here because it applies to just about everything else in the business:

The public . . . can only buy what publishers choose to publish. What sells is as much to do with how the books are marketed by publishers as it is to do with the subject and author; a best seller is made so by the marketing department telling the public that it is a best seller, and there is no doubt that many book buyers are influenced in this way . . . buy[ing] books simply because they are best sellers. It becomes a circular process that is aided when the author is perceived as being a celebrity. Publishers are disingenuous about publishability which is largely governed by perceived potential sales in the short term (p. 238).

Something to remember the next time some publisher whines about being a slave to the tastes of the reading public or somesuch.

Incidentally, anyone curious to read a bit more about Black's book can find my review of the book itself here at my other blog.

No comments:

Subscribe Now: Feed Icon