Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Executive, Legislature, Judiciary

Or, Authors, Publishers, Booksellers.

The three-pronged model for government is, in theory, an ideal one for the post-enlightenment democracy. The executive writes the laws, the legislature tweaks those laws and decide which ones are passed and the judiciary upholds some of those laws and throws out others. It is a circular form with no one branch, in theory, becoming more powerful than the other.

In the book trade, similarly, the author writes the books, the publishers look at those books and decides which ones to publish and the booksellers support some books and dismiss others. Each branch needs the other in a harmonious circle and everybody's happy.

However, one look at our cousins across the atlantic will soon realise that this model is, at the present time and for the most part, total bollocks. Oh well.

We had a visit from Richard Charkin, le grand fromage at Macmillan, yesterday after we had an 'exchange of opinions' over at his blog. Good on him for coming in and a jolly illuminating chat it was too about the nature of the book trade and its future. However one thing became abundantly clear soon after his departure and I think Marie, who was there giving her tuppence worth, will agree. Not only are we not reading the same page, we're not reading the same book. In fact we're not even in the same library. The circle of trust has become a tangle of second-guessing with lots of misunderstandings, dead-ends and dark places only broken occasionally by the light. Oh well.

'May you live in interesting times', as the old curse goes.


  1. Blimey I hope you'd done the hoovering and had a copy of Jeffrey Archer in the window.

    Did he actually say why he thinks the independent booktrade is in danger of 'bringing on its own demise'? Or did he just say that it is.

  2. I aksed him about that and he said that he meant it as 'a reference to the poor state of the book industry in general'. Which is what it sounded like, didn't it?

  3. But he`s lovely all the same.

  4. Hopefully Marie brought back some Lardy Cake from Darrset which would have been appropriate nibbles for this memorable meet.

  5. Clive - you are a lot more fun than we first thought!