RARA-AVIS: Re: Noir Then, Noir Now

From: Kevin Burton Smith (kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 28 Jun 2009

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    Sorry, Brian. It's not all about Dave.

    I just thought Charles' post (and Al's before that) on the role of best-selling books in the publishing industry inserted a little light and air and much-needed perspective into a discussion that far too often quickly devolves into close-minded conspiracy theories, jealousy and sour grapes, that's all.

    Like it or not, it's the sale of blockbusters and best-sellers that keeps the wheels of the industry turning. It doesn't mean -- and I'm not saying -- that those regulars on the best-selling lists, even those writing for those big, bad New York publishers, are necessarily
    "better" writers, but selling diddly-squat copies of a book from a smaller, non-NY-based press is no guarantee of quality either.

    What best-selling novelists do is write books lots of people want to read. What publishers (or at least those without their heads up their asses) try to do is publish books people want to read. As evil conspiracies go, it's not exactly the Kennedy assassination.

    Authors (or publishers) who deliberately aim for a small, select crowd and express disdain at the masses shouldn't be dismayed or pissed off when their books only sell to a small, select crowd and are ignored by the masses.

    But the real kicker is that the mega-sales of popular crime and detective novels make possible the publication of (and increase the market potential for) a lot of more marginal books which are often held in higher, if sometimes misplaced, esteem, on this list.

    Small sales doesn't mean "better books." It just means "small sales."

    (he of the world-famous "goateed wrinkled turtle head shot")

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