Sunday, June 27, 2010

Climate worsens for literary débuts


From the Bookseller:

'The contraction of the high street and the dynamics of online retailing are putting extra pressure on literary publishers, with subscriptions plummeting to less than half their previous figures.' Read more

‘If a nation’s literature declines, the nation atrophies and decays.’
Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading (1934)

‘How can we define the crisis in contemporary literature? The system of bestsellers is a system of rapid turnover. Many bookshops are already becoming like the record shops that only stock things that make it into the charts [. . .] Fast turnover necessarily means selling people what they expect: even what's “daring”, “scandalous”, strange and so on falls into the market’s predictable forms. The conditions for literary creation, which emerge only unpredictably, with a slow turnover and progressive recognition, are fragile. Future Becketts or Kafkas, who will of course be unlike Beckett or Kafka, may well not find a publisher, and if they don’t nobody (of course) will notice. As Lindon says, “You don’t notice when people don’t make it.” The USSR lost its literature without anyone noticing, for example. We may congratulate ourselves on the quantitative increase in books, and larger print runs – but young writers will end up moulded in a literary space that leaves them no possibility of creating anything.’

Gilles Deleuze, ‘Mediators’ (1985) in Negotiations 1972–1990 (Columbia University Press, 1995), p.128.

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