The Problem With Publishing from Phillip Pullman

I just thought I’d share this snippet from Phillip Pullman’s speech – Leave Libraries Alone. I thought it was very current in terms of publication explaining why good writers don’t always get published. I hope you find it inspiring.

“In the world I know about, the world of books and publishing and bookselling, it used to be the case that a publisher would read a book and like it and publish it. They’d back their judgement on the quality of the book and their feeling about whether the author had more books in him or in her, and sometimes the book would sell lots of copies and sometimes it wouldn’t, but that didn’t much matter because they knew it took three or four books before an author really found his or her voice and got the attention of the public. And there were several successful publishers who knew that some of their authors would never sell a lot of copies, but they kept publishing them because they liked their work. It was a human occupation run by human beings. It was about books, and people were in publishing or bookselling because they believed that books were the expression of the human spirit, vessels of delight or of consolation or enlightenment.

Not any more, because the greedy ghost of market madness has got into the controlling heights of publishing. Publishers are run by money people now, not book people. The greedy ghost whispers into their ears: Why are you publishing that man? He doesn’t sell enough. Stop publishing him. Look at this list of last year’s books: over half of them weren’t bestsellers. This year you must only publish bestsellers. Why are you publishing this woman? She’ll only appeal to a small minority. Minorities are no good to us. We want to double the return we get on each book we publish.

So decisions are made for the wrong reasons. The human joy and pleasure goes out of it; books are published not because they’re good books but because they’re just like the books that are in the bestseller lists now, because the only measure is profit.”

Read the rest of Phillip Pullman’s Leave Libraries Alone speech published by False Economy.

6 thoughts on “The Problem With Publishing from Phillip Pullman

  • April 23, 2012 at 9:12 am
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    This was both a haunting a frightneningly real speech by Mr. Pullman. I think, instead of worrying about whether I’m writing sellable material, I’ll focus more on writing what I love. And maybe also write a post about this, linking you.
    Thank you
    😀

    Reply
  • April 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm
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    Thanks for sharing this. It’s unfortunate that he has a very valid point about the way the publishing industry has gone.

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  • April 24, 2012 at 4:15 pm
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    Oh, yeah, I completely agree with that. It’s a very sad, sad truth. I think that’s why Indie publishing has risen so much in the last decade and I believe it will soon overtake traditional publishing, simply because of how agents and publishers are treating novels. And Pullman is the man!

    Reply

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