Little did I know that my allusion to the role of the bookstore as being crucial to publishers' marketing efforts would become so apposite so quickly. However, an old controversy has shown its head again. "Book of the week" titles and inclusion in retailers' discount promotions can and are bought by publishers. Bookselling is thus a skewed trade and not market-driven. Not a surprise to me, but a source of great annoyance to many consumers apparently.
Bottom line, consumers must stop being so gullible. But I wonder also whether publishers should neither kowtow nor justify their action by saying, “We’ve got to play by the rules because we need them.” The £50,000 it apparently costs to buy the W H Smith’s “book of the week” title may earn out in their mind, but what if the £50,000 had been spent on other forms of promotion? Moreover, what is the cost in loss of trust for both publisher and bookseller if they commoditise their creative industry?