Does success, measured only in terms of book sales, lead to a loss of thought provoking reads?

If ideas are at the heart of all good books, then why do so many recent successes have nothing of importance to say.  So many times have I picked up a new blockbuster of a book, that has dressed itself up as a great read, only to be disappointed by the shallow ideas and mediocre writing.  It wouldn’t be as much of an issue if the numbers of thought-provoking works didn’t seem to be dwindling.

Does this stem from readers not wanting anything more from their reads; or from the fear of the publishing industry, now no longer willing to take a risk on anything that, although good, may not sell in vast quantities (first novels don’t always); or is it just me missing something in these works.

It’s a worry that numbers are so much at the front of things, as writing comes from the heart where things like profit and marketability and units sold are concepts so far away from the core ideas that grace the page.  I realise that it wouldn’t be a good idea for publishers to take on manuscripts that wouldn’t sell, but it just seems that there are a lot of clones and formulaic novels gracing the bookshelves, and in my search for something original I get trumped by predictable narrative and the same old characters again and again, just because that sort of thing sold before.  There would be no Bukowski today.

I suppose this is where the self-publishing industry will come to the fore, and when publishers are no longer willing to take any risks and just become number-crunching machines, it may prove to be the new home to written ideas:

This world that I’m trying to step out into seems both open to me, and completely closed at the same time.  I think that if I’m going to get anywhere, I’m going to have to do it on my own; I’ll have to make do with trying to market myself and my stories, and just see what happens.  It’ll be a long road, but I’m willing to stomp my way along it, however long it takes, however little gain I receive and however stacked against me it seems.

That’s all for now. Rumination over.


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2 Responses to Does success, measured only in terms of book sales, lead to a loss of thought provoking reads?

  1. captainwafflez says:

    I hear ya brother, preach! It feels like a rapid turn towards trash because not that long ago I could even toddle along to my local supermarket and be confident I’d find something worth my cash in the book chart. But now? It’s either Fifty Shades Repackaged, Army Boom Boom or My Childhood Was So Bad, I Died Twice, But I’m Healing Now.

    And animal biographies. What the deuce is that about? Last week there was not only a book about the life of a cat in the chart, but also a donkey. A FREAKIN’ DONKEY!

    Yes. It’s scary. Very scary. Especially when you recognise the genre you’re comfortable with, and it’s not mass market. I’m an urbanfantasy-horror-nasty kind of gal.. It’s fair to say I’m high risk when it comes to considering what I gots to offer. Scary. Very scary.


    • That’s it! I like the term army boom boom. Nice.

      Just gotta keep doing what we’re doing though – and it’s only because publishers have decided that urban fantasy-horror-nasty-gal-lit isn’t popular at the moment that it isn’t. Perhaps we’ll both be the break throughs in our genres – the ones to start the trend and influence a train of followers.

      Cheers for commenting though. I appreciate it, and it made me smile.

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