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'A thousand passionately consumed book cults'

13 August 2007

'New media are transforming the relationship between writer and reader, fastest among the youngest, for whom click-of-mouse is a natural alternative to word-of-mouth. This new generation is so accustomed to being manipulated by entertainment executives that it already prefers the purity of a cult interest, shared with a small group of friends and untainted by hype. It's a deliciously ironic that just as the bean-counters in global entertainment groups were celebrating what they thought was global domination, the mass audience is turning into fairy dust and slipping through their fingers.

There has never been another band like the Beatles and there will probably never be another Harry Potter. Books will still become worldwide blockbuster hits but they won't need a publisher's blessing to find their first readers. While we're waiting for those hits to move up the chain of interest, we can enjoy a thousand passionately consumed book cults - unpredictable, unbankable, artist-led and the worst nightmare of the risk-phobic, sequel-crazy, celebrity-obsessed multinationals that dominate world publishing.'

Celia Brayfield in The Times