Who Should Greenlight What Gets Published Or Consumed?
If you look at the entertainment industry, you realize how often mistakes are made in deciding which content should get green-lighted, from movies, television shows, and music albums to toys, books, and theater. So what does it mean if the so-called experts – the book publishers, big movie houses, and giant record labels -- stink at predicting commercial success?
The lesson learned should be that plenty of things that get released to the marketplace fail for any number of reasons – misreads of consumers, simply too much competition, the product wasn’t as good as the concept, something changed in society from the time a project was approved to when it came out, the people making decisions didn’t do their due diligence or shouldn’t even be in the positions they are in.
Additionally, many projects fail to get green-lighted for any number of reasons, including the fact that some in the position of making decisions don’t really know anything, are prejudiced, lack metrics to make good decisions, guessed wrong, approved of something that later turned out differently, or lack the intelligence, taste, experience, and acumen to properly make such important choices.
How many books never got published because a few editors or literary agents lacked the ability to see the talent in front of them? How many movie scripts or Broadway plays failed to get purchased only because a handful of decision-makers unfairly judged others by irrelevant standards?
Are we really seeing the best movies, plays and TV fare that could exist? Are we actually reading the best books that can be written? Is the music we listen to inferior to what could be produced?
I guess we’ll never know.
The good news is that more and more people, because of crowdfunding, lower entry costs, self-publishing, sponsors, and the Internet can get the project done. Any half-decent idea or concept can be turned into a play – movie – book – TV show – music album and have an opportunity to get exposure. But this creates a new problem – a flooding of free and inexpensive content that leaves consumers exhausted in trying to figure out what to consume, not to mention getting consumption-fatigue once choices are made on what to read, see, or listen to.
Everyone is a creative artist or writer. Is anyone a consumer? So much content is out there. The gate-keeper issue may be waning, but the issue of competition heats up. Whereas in the past, others narrowed down what consumers chose from, now we have so much choice that we can’t fathom nor properly assess all of these choices.
It’s like struggling to make a lot of money and then suddenly, once you are flush with cash, there’s nothing left to buy. Or it’s like being hungry and in a room full of food but not having a key to open the door to get the food. We’re so close to creating nirvana for creative people but we’re drowning in all of these creations.
If the answer is not “bring back the gatekeepers,” it should be “bring back the news media.”
We need qualified people to inform us of the books that are worthy of our attention. Amazon book reviews, author blog posts, or celebrity tweets aren’t enough. Traditional media reviews too few books. Even if a reliable source were to review 3,000 books a year (60/week), that reflects only less than 1% of what traditional publishers release in a year. Self-publishing and POD (ed: Print On Demand) may even publish double that.
Only when we create some type of master system, where every single book is catalogued, reviewed by a singular standard, and made available to everyone will we have a fair, useful, and ethical system. Until then, we’re only as informed as the books we know exist, let alone have time to read.