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To make sense, this rests on defin­ing ‘book­selling’ as an some­thing that excludes the Internet — a dis­tinc­tion akin to defin­ing a road vehicle as any­thing pulled by a horse.

In today’s Guardian Review, Andy Beckett puts for­ward a thought­ful argu­ment about the dif­fi­culties of selling ‘ser­i­ous’ booksBy this he means good, I think in today’s pub­lish­ing mar­ket. He talks in terms of non-fic­tion, but his argu­ments apply to fic­tion too.

The mar­ket for really good books has not dimin­ished,” says Stuart Proffitt, the pub­lish­ing dir­ect­or of Penguin Press. […] Proffitt con­cedes that such suc­cesses take more effort than they used to: “You have to think more care­fully than ever before about every aspect of a book’s pub­lic­a­tion, how it looks, how you com­mu­nic­ate its exist­ence.” But he insists that the fears for ser­i­ous books are over­blown. “People in the book busi­ness are always say­ing there’s a crisis and we’re going to hell in a hand­bas­ket.”

The art­icle is reas­on­ably bal­anced, giv­en its proven­ance, but I do won­der at state­ments like this:

There is a crisis in British book­selling, thanks to the inter­net, the reces­sion and the par­tic­u­lar com­pet­it­ive­ness of the British high street.

To make sense, this rests on defin­ing ‘book­selling’ as some­thing that excludes the Internet — a dis­tinc­tion akin to defin­ing a road vehicle as any­thing pulled by a horse. Why isn’t Amazon.co.uk seen as British pub­lish­ing? Sure, it’s an American-owned com­pany. But a quick search on Wikipedia con­firms that there are few UK pub­lish­ers who stand on their own two feet.

Is it the end for qual­ity non-fic­tion? | Books | The Guardian

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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