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5 January 2012

Vanitas Vanitatum

Vanity publishing has always been spurned by those who value authority and who see the desire to promote oneself as being the self indulgent haven of those too cowardly to find an editor. I mentioned a friend's book in a bookshop a few years ago. The recipient of my joyful explanation that such an edition existed made a simple, abrupt enquiry. "Vanity publishing?"

While the cynicism of a very small minority of youthful spirits continues to surprise and alarm me, I was able, hand on heart to answer firmly "No". It was not the moment to mention that Proust self published or that most bloggers would not bother to turn on their computers if they had to deal with the neuroses of the publishing trade these days so I left the person in question happily assured, thanks to a quick search that the book in question was not the worst he had come across that day.

Nor was it the moment to point out that such lack of enthusiasm was probably killing the book trade off quicker than many of the reasons being put about, officially, both in real life and online. Printed books are being replaced by digital for thousands of reasons but I had another even more astonishing insight in the problem when I was able to inform another bookseller that the writer I had been speaking about had just won a major prize and that it might be worthwhile moving one of the books into the relative limelight of the vast sales space we were standing in.

I know this sounds pushy but Laurie Lee used go into shops and physically move his own work up front, even though he had the backing of a veritable power house of publishers and editorial acclaim.

This post explains, most of all, why most people would probably never dream of writing a book.
Too much of a fuss...

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