From DaVinci to Jordan

I have said some not so nice things about The DaVinci Code, haven’t I? I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned Katie Price and her literary pursuits, but there is a first time for everything. Consider it done.

There was one last lesson learned at Random last month. In my chat with Philippa Dickinson she pointed out that they had made much money on books like the above. And it’s not just that publishing companies like making money. We all do. But with the profits from bestselling –  if light – books Random, and others, can do great things.

Basically it’s the Robin Hood idea. You take money from the big sellers and use it to publish narrower taste books. Not all books make any money for the publisher. And although they are lovely people, they can’t publish and publish and not mind the lack of income.

So with this in mind, from now on I will try to cheer as I see the other kind of books for sale, because they are busy paying for the books I want to read.

I hope I will never say anything bad about Dan and Katie, ever again. I may do, but it will be a slip of the keyboard. Honest.

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11 responses to “From DaVinci to Jordan

  1. Dear bookwitch,

    you said not so nice things about Dan Browns “great” work (in German: Schinken)?
    Where? When?

    I must read it immediatly. Marvellous!

    I´m new to your blog, so I don´t know all posts, but I´m working on it.

    Yes, of course you and Mrs. Dickinson are right.
    But it´s our right and duty as readers, to say our judgement to this with a loud and clear voice.

    And now I´m busy, because I must find your not so nice things about Dan Brown.

  2. I agree that the likes of Brown and Price are necessary evils as they allow publishing houses to make money and therefore publisher “smaller” authors. But there is still the issue of booksellers (by that I mean the chains. Not the independents) who push the big names so much there is little space for anything else on their shelves :0(

  3. Well, Gisela, I try not to say anything at all, if I’ve got nothing nice to say. Rather like Thumper in Bambi.

    Library Mice, we’ll have another go at the chains sometime soon, shall we?

  4. I don’t think ‘because it will sell and you will benefit’ is a good enough argument myself.

    It was used to me about some truly awful stuff on display at a publisher I visited. Ghost written accounts by the tortured parents of murdered children for instance.

    imho publishers and their products are no more beyond criticism than the rest of us and you shouldn’t feel squeamish about doing it!

  5. Dear bookwitch,
    good heavens, you can´t be serious about this sentence from thumper (by the way, even as a child I found that rule ridiculous).
    If you have such a nice and fascinating blog, it´s but your duty, sometimes to say, what might not be so nice.
    Otherwise it would be very boring indeed.
    I hope always to find a little bit of malice (against them, who deserve it, of course).
    Remember, you are a “Witch” :-)

  6. I am not at all sure that the trickle down or Robin Hood effect is true any longer. I think these days EVERY BOOK has to justify itself by its bottom line, if you’ll forgive the expression. Writers who don’t come up to scratch find themselves shunned next time round, their contracts not renewed, and sometimes series they’ve signed up for cancelled altogether. The old days, when Raymond Briggs’s The Snowman paid for me to be published by Hamish Hamilton are definitively OVER, I reckon. I will happily be corrected if anyone has any concrete examples of it still going on….

  7. Witches are nice, Gisela! It’s exchanging the ‘w’ for a ‘b’ that I guard against as much as I can, although Godmother Rosoff rather fancied a blog about children’s authors along the lines of Popbitch. I’ve not been able to oblige that far.

    I did write something very bad once:

    http://bookwitch.wordpress.com/2008/10/23/a-modern-tale/

    It cost me considerably, but I felt it was necessary to put my version of things in the public eye before the s**t hit the fan. I’ve not drawn anybody’s attention to it before, as I only wanted a public record. Those who know me and certain other people, know who this is about. For anybody else it’s anonymous (apart from that careless comment one person made under their real name), and as I made it fiction, you can’t even say it’s true.

  8. I think this argument only gets put out to console poor struggling children’s writers and preserve our blood pressure levels as we spot the latest piece of crap by Madonna hogging all the bookshop shelf space…

  9. My understanding was that the profits from bestselling trash enabled publishers to pay defence-budget advances to even more authors of bestselling trash.

    The Robin Hood argument is often used, but as Adele says, (or to paraphrase her at least), ‘Shew me the monayy!’ Let’s have one concrete, peer-reviewable example of this happening. I’d love to see it. Bet they can’t produce one.

  10. I’m wrong again, am I?

    The question is, can anyone prove it one way or another? Unless they do their accounts to show that Katie’s £3 million have distributed towards the publication of these named books.

  11. I wish this were true; it would be wonderful if it were. But I agree with Adele Geras and Nick Green. The evidence bears both of them out: there is simply so much rubbish being published these days. Badly/sloppily-written, no copy-editing (spelling/grammatical faults abound, as do continuity errors) carelessly-edited (IS it edited? So many contemporary novels could do with a cull of about 90 pp – leaving one to suppose publishing criteria include quantity trumping quality!) … Like you, I have tended to hang back with the criticism – and for the same reason; but now I think we readers should speak out … Bon courage, Bookwitch!

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