Archive for August 24th, 2008

Insight into publishing

I came across this little gem in the Times about the troubles at PFD literary agency late last year.

The part I found most interesting is this stinging but eloquently honest assessment of the state of affairs in publishing today.

The literary elite, increasingly depressed by publishing’s love affair with the mass market, its desertion of the mid-list, the relinquishing of their power by publishers to the booksellers, identified in this move a plan to further “streamline” this still vaguely eccentric and mercurial industry into a profit-driven conveyor belt in which authors and actors would be expected to become all-singing, all-dancing “products”. A world in which glamour models can dominate the bestseller lists with autobiographies that they happily admit to not having written. A world in which the oversixties, that is to say more than a handful of PFD’s leading agents, would be considered well past their sell-by dates and where authors such as Louis de Bernieres, who became widely read only with the publication of his fifth book, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, would, in these more marketing-orientated days, never have retained the complete confidence of his publishers unless by happy chance he had been discovered by Richard and Judy. The intellectuals hate to admit it, but this is what a meritocratic, market-driven landscape looks like.

Finally, the article links to a diagram with a fascinating insight into the connections between some major players in publishing in the UK.

It’s all eye-opening for the publishing industry outsider.

Add comment August 24th, 2008


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