Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Publishers turned booksellers

I read this in Goodreads: "With the advent of digital reading and the popularity of social media interaction with bestselling authors, an interesting phenomenon is taking place. Reading consumers are developing not only a loyal following of their favorite authors, but also developing a measure of brand loyalty to certain publishers. For their part, publishers have responded with shopping websites where readers can purchase digital and print titles, as well as other potential perks like being selected to read content before it is officially released."

Well, well, well. Silverfish Books started this trend 12 years ago and have been advocating the creation of strong brand-recognition ever since. There was a time when book imprints meant something. In the seventies, one never went wrong choosing a Faber and Faber for good contemporary (literary) fiction and a Penguin for the classics. Later, big houses came out with premier imprints like Vintage and Picador. Then there were the Serpent's Tails and Harvills for the even more eclectic. Then everything disintegrated and became a boring soup, making book discovery a real pain. Fifty Shades was published under Vintage. Need I say more!

The book industry (the Anglo-American version at least) became a fast-food outlet selling burgers and oily fries to the masses. That market will not go away; there will be enough children to keep it profitable. But adults, after showing some initial interest, will crave for something more in their lives. New restaurants will open for them to enjoy good meals, instead of a pizza takeaway everyday; an occasional haute cuisine, even.

The book industry will evolve likewise."... UK-based publisher Five Leaves Publications is opening an actual brick-and-mortar bookstore in response to the need for more independent book shops, as well as a way to further the discovery of its client list. This will be the first independent bookstore to open in the store’s area of Nottingham since 2000."

Three cheers to Five Leaves Publicatons. Hip hip hooray! x3

Ban lifted on Irshad Manji's book

This is old news by now; it was reported in The Malaysian Insider on the 5th of September. More importantly, is this the end of the story? TMSI reported, "In her decision, Zaleha questioned that if the book (Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta) was prejudicial to public order, why was there no action taken to ban the English version of the book?" The book was in circulation for about two weeks before it was banned, while its original version in English has been in the market since June 2011.

All this is not new any more. But another point made by the Justice Zaleha is. "Every legal power must have limits, otherwise we will have a dictatorship." Wow! Is anyone listening?

However, we know what the reality is. Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta will never be available to the public in this country because there are other ways of restricting the circulation of books without following the legal route. Harassment is one; walk into a bookshop when it is full of customers in the pretext of looking for contraband and disrupt business. Harass book importers at customs checkpoints, delay clearance, make them open every container in front of the enforcement officers. Harass transporters. In other words, make life hell for anyone trying to sell it.

Would that be akin to a dictatorship? Look out for interesting arguments here, possibly involving Jews and Zionist! Everything is their fault!