Rules Which Suck The Life Out Of Publishing
23 Mar 2007, 6:36:27 pm
There's long been a rule that publishers may not review the books they've published. It makes sense to nearly everyone simply because the publisher is obviously biased in favor of the book; after all, a publisher is the one who has invested in the book and wants to make money in return. But is this really fair?
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You might think that investment vote speaks enough on its own, but that's like saying a book review that reads , "I like it a lot!" tells a reader anything. Why can't publishers say why they opted to publish the work? Even if you are the cynical type who thinks the answer to "why publish it" is "to make money," what makes the publisher think the book will sell -- and sell enough that they are willing to invest in it? Authors have the opportunity to be interviewed and discuss what motivated or inspired them, so why not publishers?
Obviously, reviews done by publishers should clearly be stated as such; I don't believe anyone should hide their connections to a book (or any product). But in a world where it is now acceptable for publishers and authors to pay for book reviews, why isn't it possible to let publishers have their say?
One of the primary reasons we became publishers was based on the excitement of reading, of being able to print books we liked therefore making them available for other readers. In the current state of publishing affairs, we are unable to gush with enthusiasm about our books. Our vote to invest is all we are allowed to say (other than press releases which are to be facts only, ma'am.) Here I am, stuck being silent, unable to share my excitement at offering this book to readers. Frankly, that sucks.
So does not being able to enjoy talking with authors. I love talking with authors. I love hearing how they came up with that particular idea, what inspires them -- and what happens to them out & about as they live the role of published author. Why I am I forbidden to share these stories?
Somewhere along the line publisher pride or any PR has become synonymous with dirty trickery. That may be true for many organizations; but it doesn't have to be. If a publisher clearly states that they are the publishers of the work, doesn't that give readers and possible book buyers the opportunity to think and decide for themselves?
(At least it's more honest, in my opinion, than a paid reviewer writing about books.)
Consumers buy thousands of items based on a commissioned salesman's pitch -- a person who is paid if and only if we buy from him. We scrutinize what he says, using common sense to look past face value to evaluate if what he says is true. We'll take the advice of others, read reviews, and for larger purchases consult consumer guides before deciding what we want to buy. Are clearly disclosed publisher comments, reviews or author interviews any different than the pitch of a salesman paid on commission?
I don't think so.
Rules which suck the life out of publishing and the spirit out of reading itself are rules meant to be broken.
So I'm going to begin this journey of talking about our own books. I'm going to dish with Ephemera Bound authors and editors. I'm going to enjoy what I do. If I'm lucky, readers are going to share with me too.
Is this a bit unorthodox? Yeah. But then Ephemera Bound isn't your typical press. We don't settle for "that's just the way it's done" -- especially if it sucks so much fun out of publishing.
Publishing should at least be as much fun as reading which, as any reader will tell you, involves sharing your thoughts about the book. We can accept that. And we hope you can too.