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Sunday, May 13, 2007

An Absolute Must-Read

This article speculates on what makes some books succeed while others don't. I suspect I could launch into a rant of my own based on my initial read of this.

Here's an excerpt:

The hunt for the key has been much more extensive in other industries, which have made a point of using new technology to gain a better understanding of their customers. Television stations have created online forums for viewers and may use the information there to make programming decisions. Game developers solicit input from users through virtual communities over the Internet. Airlines and hotels have developed increasingly sophisticated databases of customers.

Publishers, by contrast, put up Web sites where, in some cases, readers can sign up for announcements of new titles. But information rarely flows the other way — from readers back to the editors.

“We need much more of a direct relationship with our readers,” said Susan Rabiner, an agent and a former editorial director. Bloggers have a much more interactive relationship with their readers than publishers do, she said. “Before Amazon, we didn’t even know what people thought of the books,” she said.

Most in the industry seem to see consumer taste as a mystery that is inevitable and even appealing, akin to the uncontrollable highs and lows of falling in love or gambling. Publishing employees tend to be liberal arts graduates who enter the field with a starting salary around $30,000. Compensation is not tied to sales performance. “The people who go into it don’t do it for the money, which might explain why it’s such a bad business,” Mr. Strachan said.

I'm going to take a few days to digest this, but I felt it was definitely worth relaying. In part, it's funny, because I just started a thread on Crimespace asking if we can manufacture success.

I'm interested in seeing thoughts on the topic. Already there have been some interesting stories told. Thoughts welcome here as well.