If I said to you “Describe Anna Karenina,” perhaps you’d mention her beauty … if you were reading closely you’d mention her weight, or maybe even her little mustache (yes. It’s there). Mathew Arnold remarks upon “Anna’s shoulders, and masses of hair, and half-shut eyes…” But what does Anna Karenina look like? You may feel intimate with a character (people like to say of a brilliantly limned character: “it’s like I know her) but this doesn’t mean you are actually picturing a person. Nothing so fixed—nothing so choate.
I know there’s a “limn” in there, but that’s not Kakutani.
Discovery for books isn’t happening at retailers for two reasons. First, the search features are broken and second, the publishers and retailers aren’t speaking the language of the reader. Until that happens, discovery will happen elsewhere and maybe in smaller numbers.
For example, this article might be tagged as “common sense, make this happen, stuff that would work.”
Last year was a big one for publishing on Kickstarter. The Web site is the most popular crowdfunding online destination, with 1,666 projects successfully funded in the publishing category, and a total of $11,057,252 pledged. In addition, $8,482,598 was raised for comics, which are listed as a separate category. Altogether, $19.5 million was raised for publishing-related projects.
After digital, this is the most interesting thing happening in books.
“There’s no problem getting your book onto the internet, the big problem is getting anybody to pay attention,” he says.
Here’s the paradox of self-publishing; as it becomes more common and accepted, it will actually become less attractive. The deluge of texts will make the attention-getting abilities of publishers even more useful. The networking, PR, and marketing of publishers will become their greatest assets, rather than their gatekeeping, distribution, and editorial functions.