Chris at book-a-rama brought a most interesting article to my attention.

The End: Have We Reached The End of Book Publishing As We Know It?” is a fascinating look at the publishing industry and struggles it is facing. While I don’t think publishing is going to ever end,  I thought the article had some great insights into book publishing. This article reminded me of some things I’ve been thinking about recently; that is, why do we read what we read?

Here are some of my thoughts after reading this article:

  • Book publishers are commercial companies, out to make money. Therefore, they choose books because of commercial appeal, not necessarily because it’s quality literature.
  • A quote from the article: “What I’ve heard from editors is, ‘My judgment doesn’t count any longer.’ They didn’t flock to publishing because they want to publish Danielle Steel.” In other words, editors don’t have much say in book selection. Danielle Steel gets published, while better authors might not. (I was an editor for a short time before I realized how much I don’t want to read most modern fiction.)
  • Chic lit writers (for example) get better book deals than do former Pulitzer Prize winners. What has the world come to? That seems a sad commentary on what people read. It’s not that all Pulitzer Prize writing is superb or that all “chic lit” is generic, but I’d think there should be a standard of writing that we expect when we pick up a book. It’s a shame that monetary decisions get in the way of quality literature being discovered (or quality writing being edited properly). (For me, at least, “chic lit” stories are meant to be watched, as in “chick flick.”)
  • Books by bloggers really are not the next big thing. Sorry, folks, but it’s not going to happen. Bloggers are not going to save the publishing industry,

The bottom line:

  • Simply because a book has been published does not mean that (1) the author made any money or (2) it is worth reading. These days, especially, publishing a business venture!

Why do you read what you read? I know I didn’t answer the question myself, but I find it interesting to think about what “a published book” really is and how it got between two covers (or not).

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. I think it’s very sad that badly written books are getting published because of the commercial appeal while good books, books that possibly might join the canon of classic literature, are going unpublished or largely ignored.

    I read classic literature simply because that’s what I like. The stories are usually interesting, I learn from them, I see the world from different points of view, and I feel like I’ve grown afterwards. Periodically I’ll read something in a genre and I always feel afterwards like I’ve gorged myself on a huge McDonalds meal – kind of sick and heavy. And usually, the genre books just aren’t that interesting. I don’t retain anything. I think it’s all about taste. I don’t read classic lit because I’m trying to make myself smarter or any other reason people assume, I read it because that’s what I enjoy, the same way a person might enjoy romance or mystery or crime drama.

  2. I’ve been so disgusted by certain bad books that I refused to consider things by the publisher again for quite some time (or ever again, in the case of some smaller publishers). Mostly, they just infuriate me because a) it’s crap and b) I believed it might have been otherwise, enough so to buy it. It feels like a breach of trust. (I feel this way about a lot of products that are not as advertised.)

    The questions why I read what I read and why I buy which books I buy are two very different questions with two pretty different answers. I suspect the second question is really what you’re asking, so: I tend to buy books on impulse–usually paperbacks–books that suit my mood or which have covers I like (yes, I’ll buy a book if I love the cover, but only if the story seems like something I at least might enjoy). Last time I went to Powell’s, I scoured my wishlist and the titles that stuck out–that had received a great review I trusted or had really interesting jacket blurbs–I looked up the location in the store. I culled the list even more by looking at some of the books around them, sometimes opting to not bother this trip, sometimes opting for a neighboring book instead. Why? Because the book from the list didn’t feel right in my hands.

  3. Amanda, thanks for your comment! That is so close to how I feel and what I read! I likewise have found that I enjoy classic literature more.

    Jena, I was asking more why do we read what we read, but the fact that the format and cover of the book makes a difference in what you read is very interesting! I never would have thought of that affecting book choices. I don’t think I’ve ever bought or not bought a book because of how it feels: It’s all about what’s on the pages for me!

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