Sunday, March 18, 2007


I've been walking around in a funk for a good while as it relates to the book trade. I've made my peace with independents in the trade as they relate to chains, and their dominance over the bestseller piece of the pie.
It's that dominance that makes books like Chris Anderson's Long Tail seem at odds with what I know to be true. Bestsellers rule and it's damnably difficult to make a living writing (or selling) what's left. Of course not impossible and again, I'm making my peace with things in that regard.
There are always exceptions, but I'm largely in agreement with Logan Pearsall Smith on the subject.
Most of us are familiar with the premise of Anderson's book, but the subtitle is,
Why the Future Is Selling Less of More. The basic idea is that blockbusters are dying and anyone able to find and exploit niche markets will do alright after everyone has read their Harry Potters, Da Vinci Codes and knockoffs of The Secret. Rhonda Byrnes book is a glorified bumper sticker, but is far and away the best selling title going at the moment.
It's an intriguing idea, but one that I mostly dismissed because I saw the book trade working in another direction.
Perhaps movies, games and whatever else is discussed in the book are on a different track but as it happens, I don't have to read it now.
Waterloo's own Tom Slee, who is diffident in a way that only brilliant people can be,
has done a (very) thorough rebuttal.
His take is methodical, evenhanded and solid.
This doesn't change my view of book selling as such, but it does take the piss out of what I viewed as a false premise.
It's a hell of a blog and accompanies a provocative and readable book.

Posted by Dave

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