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Comment from the book world in February 2004

February 2004

'Good books sell and make money'

23 February 2004

'People have realized good books sell and make money. And the pressure on the corporations is to make money. They understand that there are audiences for books other than the John Grishams and the Dr. Phils and the Atkins Diet.

I think it's easier now to sell good literary fiction in greater numbers than it ever has been. At one moment, Arthur Golden's first novel, Memoirs of a Geisha, Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things, and Frazier's Cold Mountain, all were on the New York Times bestseller list. In my 25 years of being in the business, I cannot recall a moment when three literary first novels were all on the bestseller list at the same time.'

Morgan Entrekin, publisher of Grove-Atlantic, New York in the Christian Science Monitor

'A pomposity and a preciousness'

16 February 2004

'Very occasionally I become aware of a pomposity and a preciousness associated with poetry, and that some people in the poetry world are trying to protect something they see as very, very pure. And occasionally that makes me want to do something very, very dirty, like get up and read something that sounds like a song, or do something that might appeal to a wide number of people. It's probably something too about my background, about growing up in a culture of people telling stories, telling jokes, singing songs and sharing the talent they've got with as wide an audience as possible. It's just a natural consequence of who I am and where I've been brought up. It's not a career choice. I don't think I could do it any other way.'

Simon Armitage talking to Tom Payne in the Daily Telegraph

'To feel a bit better about life'

9 February 2004

'People read these books for the same reason as they'd go to see a film like Notting Hill or Sliding Doors. They watch a Reese Witherspoon film to see her get the guy. People pick up a chick-lit book for exactly the same reason: to feel a bit better about life when they close the last page. And what's wrong with that?'

Chris Manby, author of Seven Sunny Days

'An extraordinarily energetic industry'

2 February 2004

'We operate in a relatively mature market, but book publishing is a surprisingly dynamic enterprise because you have to reinvent your product year after year...

You cannot rely on past successes. If half your sales are from your back catalogue, the other half has to be published afresh. We have to be extremely alert to new trends and fashions and be able to read the market perhaps two or three years in advance because of the lead time...

Book publishing always feels to me an extraordinarily energetic industry. People who join the publishing industry rarely leave."

John Makinson, Penguin CEO