“When the storytelling goes bad in society, the result is decadence.” – Aristotle
When meetings go bad in an industry, the result is irrelevance.
Over the years, corporate overseers have reengineered publishing’s idiosyncratic DNA. Books are now acquired by committees. There are a lot of meetings. Like a crazy number of meetings. And finding books that every department can get behind are the order of the day. There is now a very long process to get a book from acquisition through publication. It’s a gauntlet that only a master of business administration could love—form filings lead to PowerPoint presentations which lead to catalogs and sales calls with more PowerPoint…
This isn’t surprising. The book publishing industry is being threatened by an abundance of disruptive forces and fear is at an all time high.
When fear is high, trust is low. When trust is low, meetings are called. When meetings are called, responsibility is diffused. When responsibility is diffused, the result is delay and compromise.
Now that anyone can publish a book, there are more books than ever. Unfortunately, most of them are terrible.
We need book publishers. We need them to be the curators, to take risks and invest in the compelling stories that we never knew we wanted.
But committee meetings where books are picked by unanimous consent won’t get us there.
I hope the industry will cancel the meetings, re-instill a culture of individual responsibility, and get back to the scary work of championing the books that make a difference.
Otherwise, the publishing industry risks irrelevance and society faces decadence.