Friday, February 20, 2009

An Interview With Four Editors

Yesterday's Publishers Lunch directed me to a Poets & Writers interview with four editors. I'd encourage all writers to read it.

Here was an interesting question and answer:
When you look at the industry, what are the biggest problems we face right now?

CHINSKI: I think they're all so obvious. Returns. Blogs.

GARGAGLIANO: And just finding readers.

CHINSKI: The end of cultural authority. That's something we talk about a lot at FSG [Farrar, Straus and Giroux]. Reviews don't have the same impact that they used to. The one thing that really horrifies me and that seems to have happened within the last few years is that you can get a first novel on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, a long review in The New Yorker, a big profile somewhere, and it still doesn't translate into sales. Whereas six years ago, or some mythical time not that long ago, that was the battle—to get all that attention—and if you got it, you didn't necessarily have a best-seller, but you knew that you would cross a certain threshold. Whereas now you can get all of that and still not see the sales.

I think that phenomenon is about the loss of cultural authority. There's just so much information out there now that people don't know who to listen to, except their friends, to figure out what to read. And that's the question we wrestle with the most.

I think publishers have to communicate more directly with readers—that's the big barrier we're all trying to figure out. How much to use our websites to sell directly and talk to our readers directly?
Read the entire interview here.

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