October 22, 2007

10 ways to get you to read a book...

from the BBC Magazine website, which has an article on the top 10 "factors that could influence the next sales behemoth". Few of which will gladden the heart of the professional critic -- no doubt as it should be, according to Sir Howard Davies -- especially:

Factor #1, "Word of Mouth": "Who do we really trust? When the chips are down, it's the opinions of our friends and family and colleagues that matter in all things. When you're trying on an item of clothing you don't scratch around for a piece of pertinent fashion journalism, you just ask a mate to have a quick look."

Factor #9, "Praise for": "Once upon a time in the monomedia world, the reviewer was king. Powerful newspaper literary critics bestrode the world of publishing like colossi. Now not so much. As Mr Rickett [Joel Rickett, deputy editor of The Bookseller] notes: "People themselves are the reviewers now on Amazon and on all kinds of sharing websites. Reader response has almost supplanted the top-down role of the critic."

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By the way, the latest online edition of The Bookseller includes an interview with Peter Usborne of Usborne Books, including his thoughts on children's nonfiction:
Now Usborne wants to turn the spotlight back on traditional non-fiction publishing. "I initially thought that the internet would kill non-fiction, because teachers would tell children to use the internet to help with homework. But if you key in 'castles' [on a search engine], you get 900,000 possible websites. The internet is an inadequate resource for children."

Although space that retailers devote to children's non-fiction has declined, Usborne believes it is time to address this. "People's attitudes are beginning to change. I really believe that we can bring back non-fiction and make it a success again, but that is up to the trade as much as the publishers. I hope that they will start to back non-fiction again."

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