Thursday, April 21, 2005



Am I the only one to sense a certain pathos in this begging entreaty to Oprah Winfrey? I'll note that many of the signatories are writers I admire, and it pains me to make light of their efforts. But asking Oprah to save literary fiction by reinstating her book club is like asking the Beatles to promote world peace by doing a one-shot reunion--i.e., wishful thinking. Obviously La Winfrey gave the publishing industry an amazing boost: each pick immediately sold 600,000-1,200,000 copies. For that I salute her. Still, the fact that club members so seldom bought other books by the same writers (let alone different writers) says more about the power of branding than the soul-expanding capacity of great fiction.

You are *not* alone. My thoughts exactly when I heard of the letter. As a former PR hack on the London book scene, my first reaction was that it was desperate *publicists* getting together and hauling in authors as camouflage - but there are quite big names there who wouldn't necessarily be bullied. I had *not* realised the limited branding effect and that viewers seldom bought other books by the same authors or were inspired to spread the net further. That's depressing.

Did read somewhere that a condition of an Oprah blessing is a certain number of copies in print? I can see the sense of that but it also smacks un peu of blackmail and I can sympathise with a publisher who prefers to avoid the expense and risk of a reprint.

I confess that most of the interviews I set up were great fun but usually gutted the best bits of the book and I never heard of one selling out as a result of Panorama or Michael Parkinson or Melvyn Bragg or whoever.

Mustn't rabbit on too long, but excellent blog you have here. CH
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?