Hello friends! As someone hoping to get into Book Publishing, I’ve become a tad hyper-aware to the fact that books = money. A prevalent theme in all the job advice that I’ve been given emphasizes the fact that business acumen is better valued than simply loving to read. I’m sure that most people in the Book Community are aware of this, but I also thought it was important to point out: by being a part of the Book Community, we are part of an industry. A business. A place to make money.
We play a huge part in over consumerism. And so, whilst there’s been a lot of criticism of fast-fashion, fast-makeup and general overconsumption lately, I haven’t yet seen anyone mention over consumerism in the Publishing industry.
Although there is (arguably) a lot more effort that goes into writing a novel than a million-dollar brand creating another liquid lipstick, Book Publishing is a business. It wasn’t until I joined the online Book community that the sheer amount of over consumerism hit me. Here’s how.
Editions, Editions & Editions
So you’ve read Harry Potter (unfortunately). Do you really need to buy the House editions, the Adult Paperbacks, the Adult Hardbacks and the Gift Editions when you’ve already bought the Classic editions? If you’re an avid collector, go for it! If not, the answer is probably no.
Of course, I recognize reprinting books is just a part of the Publishing industry, but it’s important to recognize that when Publishing houses go (let’s be honest) a little overboard like this, it’s probably less about the book and more about making money.
Sure, I want to spend all my savings on the Penguin Clothbound Classics series, but I also want to pay my rent.
Instagram Strikes Again
I’ve been critical of Instagram before, but guess what? I’m going to criticize it again. Here’s the unspoken truth to Bookstagram: Physical copies of books are going to get more likes than eCopies. It’s understandable why – they’re just so much more aesthetically pleasing. But with this unspoken truth comes an immense amount of pressure. It feels like you have to have a physical copy of the latest releases, just to get a like on a photo that someone’s realistically only going to be looking at for a few seconds. That’s why I love to see people show their second-hand book hauls, or donate their books to local charity shops.
Celebrity Book Deals
Need I say more than to remind everybody of this?
The Race to Review
You know how celebrities are given free PR to convince their audiences to buy the products? It’s the same in the book industry. I don’t blame bookish influencers for taking part in this – books can be expensive (I’ve obviously taken part in this culture myself, and will continue to do so). So when there’s an offer of a free book, reviewers race to review them!
This, of course, builds hype around the book until everyone’s talking about it! Positive reviews are a fantastic thing for the author, and of course, if a novel is good I think the author deserves praise. What I would say to this is: if a novel is self-published, by a marginalised author or has been published by a smaller Publishing house, buy the novel. But if the book has been published by a larger Publishing house, chances are that there will be a ton of other people wanting to buy and support to the author already! So: do you need to buy the hardback of this book now, or can you read it another way? With that in mind:
What I really want to highlight with this is for us bookish people just to be a bit more mindful of the role we play in over consumerism. Before we jump on the trend to buy the latest hardback from Waterstones, can we:
- Wait until the paperback is released?
- Wait to buy the novel second-hand?
- Buy an eBook copy?
- Borrow a copy from our local library?
The great thing about books is that unlike fashion or makeup, there are so many ways to consume content! There are so many easy ways for us to make a difference to the world. We need to start paying more attention to them.
I, like everyone else in the community, love books. Whether they be educational or entertainment, they’re always a source of discussion. There’s nothing inherently wrong with buying a book for aesthetic reasons or for the fear of missing out once in a while. But it’s also important that we, as consumers, are critical of what we’re buying, reading and partaking in. That way we might do our part to move towards a more sustainable society.