23Sep

Who has influence over the UK’s reading habits?

The Guardian is running an interesting feature profiling the 100 most influential people with regards to the UK’s reading habits. As usual for these things, it’s a scattering of industry buyers, CEOs, editors and famous authors.

The most telling thing, however, is how few people actually shape our reading culture. I’d argue that you could probably trim most of the authors off that list and just make do with those who own the supermarkets, the book chains (Amazon and Waterstone’s – and their senior buying staff), as well as those high up in the amalgamated publishing houses. You could probably whittle that list down to about 20 people who really have the chops to shape our reading culture, especially given the process of corporate mergers that happened over the last decade.

And no, it’s not a particularly good thing, but that’s just how it is. And yes, I would like to think that most readers actually have control over what they read, but they’re the targets of shrewd marketing decisions of powerful people. That’s probably how it’s been for a very long time, too.

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About Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

4 comments

  1. Mandatory Genre Exclusion Snark:

    [Too lazy to even type it out. You know the speech.]

  2. Interestingly, I think there was a little love for genre there – at least, Pratchett and Gaiman were on that list – but I know what you mean.

    Perhaps, in a strange way, it means genre is relatively safe. It’s got a loyal readership, a hugely developed fandom, so isn’t influenced by quite the same ‘market forces’. Yes, let’s see this as a good thing. 

  3. Yes. Gaiman, Pratchett, Moore and the somewhat genre-y Pullman/Rowlings. The 1990’s are well represented.

  4. Wait, we’re not in the 90s? I see your point. Publishing moves slowly!