It’s All There in Black and White.

The publishing industry, like many others at the moment, is currently in what I think can fairly be described as a somewhat parlous state. That is I suppose in large measure due to the economic circumstances of our time – i.e. yet another victim of the hugely greedy bankers (or do you spell that with a ‘w’). There are also, though, enormous changes taking place, not least because of the Internet, the effects of which have I suspect hardly even begun to be felt yet. 

I personally am at a stage in my life when two things seem apparent to me: firstly, a lot of the time we are seemingly daily bombarded with so much crisis and doom and gloom on TV and in the newspapers and elsewhere that, when I read a book or watch a TV show or film, I simply want to be entertained – to escape – to laugh, or even to cry more for joy than for sorrow and I think many people are suffering from this ‘doom overload’ that is afflicting me; secondly, publishers are looking for ever more certain winners in terms of profit – the fast buck that comes from either an already established author, or more frequently than ever, anything (who writes this stuff doesn’t matter a darn) that has a name tag to it that is instantly recognisable by the book buying public. Famous or infamous is irrelevant, the name is the thing. As Jennifer Astle has pointed out in this post…

“It seems as though another pre-packaged celebrity is going to stretch out her fifteen minutes of fame by penning a memoir about the trials and tribulations of being a 22 year old, heterosexual, rich, white, blonde, beauty pageant winner.  Move on Anne Frank, Carrie Prejean has a story to tell.” (full post here)

I’ve never thought that the publishing industry, or the media in general was as altruistically full of the integrity they would have us believe, but then which of us is? However, in these strained economic times, it does seem that they are becoming even less prepared to allow mere facts to get in the way of selling what they can, however they can. I can’t say I entirely blame them for giving the public what it wants, or attempting to, but it does raise some serious questions, as this superb post by successful female TV Producer Maria Lokken shows…

“There’s a controversy brewing over a new Young Adult book about to be released in the US entitled “Liar.” The book, written by Australian author Justine Larbalestier is about a black teenager named Micah. However, the cover art, beautiful as it is, is of a white girl with long straight hair.” (full post here)

To some extent, this situation may well say far more about the book buying public than the publishing industry itself and I suppose it’s also a very reasonable argument to say that, particularly when times are this financially tough, a corporation’s gotta do what a corporation’s gotta do. Nevertheless, it’s also an entirely valid question to ask just how far we are any of us entitled to go in pandering to another’s less than laudable emotions and attitudes, simply in order to make a sale.

All that said, the really sad thing is, as Maria points out, these marketing guys are probably just plain wrong and it would be a whole lot better for everyone if they simply took the trouble to get their facts right in the first place.

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2 Responses to “It’s All There in Black and White.”

  1. “Fact checking” by “news sources” in the Internet age, seems to be a thing of the past.

    I also believe when you read “an unnamed industry source”,in a news story, that it’s actually the reporter at the next desk.

    Times have changed! I miss Walter Cronkite.

    • Ah, yes … the unnamed source. I kind of thought it was usually the cleaner (any cleaner), but when not available, I dare say the hack at the next desk doubles in that role too, as you so rightly suggest 🙂

      Walter who? … Just kidding!

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