Monday, April 20, 2009

Kabuki Publishing

Jonathan Karp has an insightful essay in this week's Publishers Weekly outlining twelve steps publishers can take to improve the business. The precis comes early:

It seems likely that the influence and cultural centrality of major publishers, as well as other producers of information and entertainment, will diminish as digital technology enables more and more people to create and share their work. This is exactly why publishers must distinguish themselves by doing better what they've always done best: champion books that offer carefully conceived context, style and authority.

The number Twelve is an obvious echo of the name of Karp's own imprint at Hachette where he's had an impressive track record since its launch in August 2005. The press, which publishes and promotes just a single book per month, has had numerous bestselling titles, notably God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens.

This is not the first time Karp has said as much, but what he outlines is worth repeating. I happen to agree with him that publishers need to focus on publishing unique, distinct titles and stop echo chamber publishing. As a publishing reporter, I also find it refreshing that he calls for more transparency and less BS when dealing with booksellers and the media. Hear, hear.

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