Thursday, October 29, 2009

Publishers Weekly Also Thinks the Year Is Over

To me, this is like having Christmas decorations up in August -- there's still sixty days left in the year, folks! it's not over yet! -- but clearly no one listens to me. PW has just posted their top ten books of 2009, excerpted from a longer list of 100 top books which they'll publish in next week's issue.

And that's another thing -- you do the long list first, and say that the Top Ten list will be coming later, to build interest and get debate going. Geez Louise, do I have to tell these people how to do everything?

(Oh, well. At least the list has one book relevant to my interests on it -- David Small's not-as-great-as-everyone-says-but-still-pretty-darn-good comics memoir Stitches.)

4 comments:

Robin Lenz said...

PW reviews books pre-publication, and asks that books be submitted for review 3 months before pub date. So given that it's the end of October, they've seen the books scheduled thru the end of the year. (Also, this is the first time PW has done a Top 10--the Top 100 lists are done by category)

Louis Bright-Raven said...

No offense, Andrew, but in this instance, why should they listen to you?

You know perfectly well that these lists are basically media propoganda to promote whatever the publishers are marketing to sell for the winter holidays through the end of the year. They have to have those lists out by the end of October so that the general consumer has time to find them and go a-hunting for the books through the end of the year.

So why are you throwing this particular rant? For someone with your amount of experience in publishing, you should know better.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Louis: I've generally considered lists like this to be easy ways to generate content without too much effort, media attention without doing anything new, and (with luck) interest in books the editors liked that haven't made much impact.

Your theory would have some validity, too, of course -- if those lists primarily consisted of books expected to be big sellers in the fall (like Going Rogue and The Lost Symbol) and were put together by the ad-sales department. Since neither of those things is actually true, I suspect you may have the rare quality of being too cynical for publishing.

Lists like this are actually blatant grabs for free publicity, no different from declaring April 23rd "International Foot-Long Pork Sausages Day" or proclaiming East Mudhole, Mississippi to be the "Leech Capital of the South." But a "best of the year" list has a natural home in the news cycle, and that home, one can clearly see, is when the media are looking back on the year just passed -- with "passed" being the operative word.

Louis Bright-Raven said...

I'm cynical because I see too much market manipulation in the comics scene and see some of the same trends in overall publishing. So I'm probably applying the back-asswards mentalities of the comics industry to publishing in general. Mea culpa.

I don't know if the fall's heavily marketed books need to be on the best of lists or not- wouldn't the list instead be more for the books from the previous three quatrters, so that publishers wouldn't have to spend additional moneys relaunching an ad campaign for these books? As you say, it's free publicity. And the fall selections will already be getting reviews and other publicity currently. *shrugs* I don't know.

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