LIND Publishing, Part 1

Publishing had a high enough opinion of its own worth to appropriate the “black + day of the week” method of naming for its Waterloo-like exemplar of its recent decline. If you don’t know, Black Wednesday was a day a few weeks ago when the big publishing companies jettisoned staff like a Bostoner ridding himself of British tea.

For some reason people seem to think the failure of a few publishing houses might doom literature, as if anything short of complete annihilation of the human race would stop us twisted writers from writing. Can you imagine anything stopping James Joyce except a bullet to the brain? You put rabid dogs in the same room as Emily Dickinson and my money is still that what comes out of the room is poetry and not dogs. We’re nuts. Don’t worry about us.

But if you’re a publisher or a person who likes your books readily bound and available in large bookstores, you might be concerned and see this natural selection as a bad thing. I do not necessarily, though if I were the one being laid off I sure as hell would.

I think this is one amongst a host of signs that indicates that publishing houses are generally being mismanaged, and so I am going to propose from my strong platform of complete lack of knowledge a blueprint for a better publishing company.

And to start that publishing company I suggest a complete and profound knowledge of the reader. I suspect that publishing companies do little to no market research. It is clear they have no focused marketing campaigns based on building a readership. The closest the industry comes is the cross marketing that occurs in genre books. (For instance, in the back of a science fiction or romance novel there are often adds, excerpts, or information on obtaining similar books.)

Some companies know their markets so well that we know their markets too. It is common knowledge that beer marketers target 21-31 year old males and that the 25-35 year old male demographic is (for some reason) the most highly prized amongst television watchers. Facts about how much teenagers spend on soda and how boomers react to the Ipod can be found in newspapers across the country, but what do we know about readers?

Nothing. I’m one of them, and I know nothing.

I once heard that 80% of all books are bought by women. I do not know if this was true or whether it still is, but if so, do publishing houses realize this? Do publishing houses know anything about their readers?

Probably not. If they did, things wouldn’t be so black.

Comments 1

  1. Lindsay wrote:

    If 80% of books are bought by women, I’m GOLDEN. GOLDEN, I tell you.

    Posted 05 Jan 2009 at 12:05 am