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.