Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: possibly the biggest publishing story of the year

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 18 Dec 2009

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    All of this dumping on Dan Brown has almost got me curious enough to check him out. Almost.

    As for how much his books have sold being evidence of publishers being "unreliable gatekeepers," well, I see it as evidence of the opposite. In this case, at least, they clearly gave the public exactly what it wanted.

    Also, they may have started the ball rolling on his popularity, but they certainly aren't responsible for how hugely it snowballed. The audience did that. Not having read any of his books, I can't even speculate on what it was, but clearly something resonated with readers in a big way for sales to take off in the way they did. And it wasn't just some book to put out on a coffee table to attest to the owner's taste. People actually read it. I remember a time when I would overhear detailed discussions of it everywhere.

    So while it's nice to blame publishers for not publishing more books that I would like (though I never seem to have too much trouble finding something new worth reading), can they really be blamed for trying to put out books that will please the largest number of readers? It is a business, after all. And while no backing from a publisher may doom a book, there's no guarantee that backing will ensure a book's popularity. If publishers could make any book as huge as DaVinci Code, they would have a much higher average of blockbusters to low or no sellers. And we'd see an even more reduced catalog.

    So is the real complaint with publishers who publish the stuff we don't like or the consumers who make that stuff so profitable to publish in the first place?


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