Whose book is it anyway?

There’s recently been a giant literary brawl on Goodreads , where readers, authors and their agents took sides and went on the warpath!  (btw Goodreads is the vast online site where millions of members discuss the world’s books.)

You can read  full details on Monday’s Guardian Books Blog, but briefly, a reader made a less than complimentary comment  about a much hyped YA book, prompting the author’s friends and agent to wade in and say some rude things about the reviewer. All hell then let loose. The result? A lot of upset passionate young bloggers, reviewers and readers. Does that matter? Well, yes, it seems so!  Here’s what Julie Bertagna, author of the Guardian Books Blog post, said …

“Twilight and The Hunger Games showed young adult fiction to be a potential goldmine. Authors and publishers quickly latched onto the galaxy of online book sites, where a vast young readership roams, as the key to global success. But can you harness that energy? Should you even try? More and more bloggers are reluctant to host the author blog tours that now swamp book sites – only to find that publishers refuse them free advance review copies of the new books they want. Who wins there? With such precarious balances of power, a bust-up was always likely.

Whose book is it anyway? The hardest thing a writer has to learn is that once you publish a book, it’s no longer truly yours – even though it’s got your name on the front and it lives inside you. It belongs to the readers now. All you can do is steel yourself as you push it out into the world, stay gracious, and get busy with the next one…”

What do you think? Who does a book belong to? The author? The readers, or the publishers and agents?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/16/ya-novel-readers-publishing-establishment?CMP=twt_gu

 

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2 Responses to Whose book is it anyway?

  1. Bernadette says:

    I don’t know who owns the book – bt no one owns opinions about that book – word of mouth has always been pretty powerful and now that word of mouth is semi-formalised into this multiheaded monster that is Amazon/Good Reads/the blogosphere everyone wants to control it – but of course no one can. Well I guess there are places where they can but they’re places like North Korea and that’s a big price to pay for control. I must admit I am well and truly sick of hearing authors whinging abut a nasty comment here or a bad review there because by far the bulk of reviews and comments that I see online (and that I write myself – full disclosure as a book blogger and Good Reads contributor) are positive. We love books, we love authors, we love reading and, by and large, it shows overwhelmingly. Why not be grateful for that instead of moaning about the relatively minor amount of negative publicity coming from the bookish community? I would bet a chunk of cash that the book-ish community has sold more books than it has stopped people buying specific books by a power of a thousand or so. I guess this whole thing irks me because it seems like another example of the entitlement mentality that seems so rampant these days – no one begged anyone to become a writer – people choose it – they have to take the good aspects of being a writer with the bad – just like anyone in any job – and though it may hurt the author is not entitled to have people love and adore their every word

  2. Marianne Wheelaghan says:

    Hi Bernadette
    so nice to hear from you and thanks so much for your very honest and full response. Sorry not to get back to you sooner – had a very busy couple of days and an top of that had an especially large amount of spam mail and nearly lost yours in amongst them!! Yes. I agree: regardless of whoever owns the book, the author or the publisher etc, “no one owns the opinions on the book” – despite the best efforts of all those trying to do so, and what a relief too. Too scary by half to think that people could be manipulated so easily. As an author, of course, I want a good review, but the fact that someone picks up my books and reads it, when there are so many other good books out there, is in itself a compliment. Maybe if I ever get a real stinker of a review I’ll fell less gracious, but I hope not. If a book doesn’t work for the reader, it doesn’t. Surely, it’s madness to think there could be one homogenous type of book that all readers would enjoy (although publishers do seem to keep looking for it)? Until relatively recently I had no idea there are so many readers out there, like yourself, who give up their time to read and write downright good reviews on so many books. I am in awe of you all and grateful. As a reader, I think it’s wonderful that I don’t have to rely on the opinion of a chosen few select “reviewers” in the press and elsewhere, to know if a new (or old) book is one I may want to read. As I writer, it means I have more chances of someone somewhere saying (hopefully) something good about it. Ultimately, if we writers can’t stand the heat, we shouldn’t be in the kitchen! Thanks, again, Bernadette 🙂

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