FrankfurtFatigue • 14 October 2007 • The SnowBlog
Carole Cadwalladr has written a bleak and damning and rather nice little article in Guardian Unlimited today about the howling soulless wastes of the Frankfurt Book Fair. I have to say, when she reiterates how few publishers accept manuscripts unless they come from an agent, and then explains that most agents don't accept unsolicited manuscripts either, it does give you momentary doubts about the efficiency and openness of our industry. But then regular readers will know that I'm always suggesting ways of replacing us with something that works better for authors and readers. My favourite of late would be to junk much of the author->agent->publisher->retailer->reader filtering process and replaced it with some sort of reader-reviewed rating system. Our book choices could then be based on the recommendations of the readers one tier more adventurous than ourselves, who are willing to read and rate untested writing. Combine that with the technology of something akin to Pandora (which is still doing me proud since commenter John gave me the final nudge I needed to try it) and you'd really have something. I suppose one's enthusiasm for such an idea might well depend on the extent to which one sees publishing/book retailing as being in need of saving. I tend to think there's too much infighting and not enough innovation - and I don't mean just novelty, I mean real paradigmatically-vertiginous innovation not so much in the writing of the words as in the selection, marketing and delivery of them.
At any rate, welcome back recent Frankfurters! I have laid in the fixings for tasty cream teas for Em and Anna. Hopefully your support staff will have done something similar for you.
Tangential Addendumy-thing: I just noticed that I have Carole Cadwalladr's novel on my shelf. As yet unread. I bought it because I enjoyed her articles. And reading the one referred to above made me think I should pick it up once more. But then I remembered what had stopped me getting past the first page last time. It wasn't a fault in the writing, it was realising that what reading her articles really made me want to do was read more of her articles. But perhaps I should give the novel a go as well.