New publication: Beyond the “good story” and sales history: Where is the reader in the publishing process?
In this paper we investigated whether there might be structures within the book industry that mitigate against publishing a greater quantity of diverse stories, or that might hinder a search for more diverse authors or a diverse readership. We interviewed a range of Australian publishing representatives. Through our questions we sought to understand how readers are understood or imagined by publishers, as well as the industry processes by which young adult titles are acquired. We found that two processes contributed to the lack of information about audiences: the over-riding value of the “good story” as a criterion for publishing a title; and the reliance on sales data as evidence of reader demand. Missing are mechanisms that provide insight into the preferences of real readers. Without this market feedback publishers are more likely to imagine readers, and readerships, to be “just like them”. This creates barriers to the creation of new and more diverse readerships and, thus, to new markets.
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