Anglo-American book publishing model

About 10 years ago I canceled my TV programming and haven’t watched any since. My decision was partly based on the amount of noxious advertising, but more so on shallowness of programming itself.

Over the last years I find myself reading less and less Anglo-American literature, not just the kind that I am forced to write (if I want to be published) but also the so called “literary” works that in the English language publishing model became a genre (or: schema) onto itself. Most of my reads are books in translation or, for the lack thereof, in original, which include new as well as older titles.

Massey lecturer Alberto Manguel proves that I am not alone. In his excellent work “The City of Words” he argues (compellingly) that the current Anglo-American publishing vessel is sinking along with writers and readers.

[…] to follow the day’s fashion, we will become “slaves to the system”.

This is a self-fulfilling truth. The book Industry not only produces this dogma, but also makes sure that very little place is accorded to anything outside it.

[…] instead of promoting books of breadth and depth, for the most part the publishing industry of our time creates one-dimensional objects, books that are surface only and that don’t allow readers the possibility of exploration.

Obviously there are countless writers who refuse to work according to formulae, and some who succeed in doing so, but much of what is being produced by the larger publishing companies today follows the set industrial model. A large portion of the reading public is therefore trained to expect a certain kind of “comfortable” book and, what is far more noxious, to read in a certain “comfortable” way, looking for short descriptions, patterns of dialogue copied from television sitcoms, familiar brand names, and plots that may follow convoluted entanglements but never allow for complexity or ambiguity.

BOOK is available here. Listen to PODCAST (highly recommended for all readers, writers, editors and literary agents)


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