Advertisement

Genre in the Marketplace

  • Claire Squires
Chapter
  • 177 Downloads

Abstract

Of the link between reading and writing in his communications circuit, Darnton put it that:

The reader completes the circuit because he influences the author both before and after the act of composition. Authors are readers themselves. By reading and associating with other readers and writers, they form notions of genre and style and a general sense of the literary enterprise, which affects their texts.1

Genre, then, is a crucial component in the marketplace, as it is one of the primary means by which authors and readers communicate, and one of the methods by which both writing and reading can be studied in their publishing contexts. The philosopher Benedetto Croce, writing on aesthetics in 1902, refuted the theoretical separation of literature into genre categories, seeing the only use of such divisions as practical, indeed purely physical:

The books in a library must be arranged in one way or another. This used generally to be done by a rough classification of subjects […]; they are now generally arranged by sizes or by publishers. Who can deny the necessity and the utility of such arrangements? But what should we say if someone began seriously to seek out the literary laws of […] those altogether arbitrary groupings whose sole object was their practical utility?

Keywords

Publishing Industry Ground Floor Front Cover Back Cover Genre Category 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 2.
    Benedetto Croce, ‘Criticism of the Theory of Artistic and Literary Kinds’, in David Duff, ed., Modern Genre Theory, translated by Douglas Ainslie (Harlow: Longman, 2000; first published in Italy in 1902), 25–8, 28.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Tzvetan Todorov, Genres in Discourse, translated by Catherine Porter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990; first published in France in 1978).Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    Boyd Tonkin, ‘Historical’, in Jane Rogers, ed., Good Fiction Guide (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 62–4, 62. Another account of the re-emerging popularity of the historical novel is provided by Matthew Kneale in ‘Reanimating the Past’, Waterstone’s Books Quarterly, Issue 2, 2001, 22–5.Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    Interview with Andrew Miller. Miller’s historical fictions are Ingenious Pain and Casanova (London: Sceptre, 1998). His third novel, Oxygen (London: Sceptre, 2001), is contemporary.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    A. S. Byatt, ‘Fathers’ in On Histories and Stories: Selected Essays (London: Chatto & Windus, 2000), 9–35, 9.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    Todd, Consuming Fictions, 128. A. S. Byatt’s Possession (London: Chatto & Windus, 1990) won in 1990,Google Scholar
  7. Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (London: Jonathan Cape, 1981) won in 1981.Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    Michael Legat, An Author’s Guide to Publishing (London: Robert Hale, 1998; 3rd edn.), 82.Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    Gérard Genette, Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation, translated by Jane E. Lewin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997; first published in France in 1987). 1–2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 20.
    Juliet Gardiner, ‘Recuperating the Author: Consuming Fictions of the 1990s’, The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 94: 2 (2000), 255–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 21.
    Emlyn Rees, The Book of Dead Authors (London: Headline Review, 1997);Google Scholar
  12. Martyn Bedford, The Houdini Girl (London: Viking, 1999);Google Scholar
  13. Rupert Thomson, The Book of Revelation (London: Bloomsbury, 1999);Google Scholar
  14. Toby Litt, Corpsing (London: Hamish Hamilton, 2000).Google Scholar
  15. Paperback editions are Rees, The Book of Dead Authors (London: Headline Review, 1998);Google Scholar
  16. Bedford, The Houdini Girl (London: Penguin, 2000);Google Scholar
  17. Thomson, The Book of Revelation (London: Bloomsbury, 2000);Google Scholar
  18. Litt, Corpsing (London: Penguin, 2000).Google Scholar
  19. 22.
    Gaskell comments that, ‘In deciding what and how much to include, the bibliographer must ask himself repeatedly: “What is the purpose of the descriptions? Who really needs each item of information? Can anything be abbreviated?” Only thus can we avoid burdensome and expensive superfluity, and escape the ultimate absurdity of mistaking the means of bibliography for its end, of practising bibliography for bibliography’s sake.’ (Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), 322.)Google Scholar
  20. 25.
    For example, a 1990s novel of an entirely different note, Joanne Harris’s Chocolat (London: Black Swan, 2000; first published in 1999) has paperback cover copy structured in a very similar way.Google Scholar
  21. 26.
    Toby Litt, Adventures in Capitalism (London: Secker & Warburg, 1996) and Beatniks (London: Secker & Warburg, 1997).Google Scholar
  22. 27.
    Further details of this are given in Claire Squires, ‘Toby Litt’, in Michael Molino, ed., Dictionary of Literary Biography 267: Twenty-First-Century British and Irish Novelists (Detroit: The Gale Group, 2002), 164–71.Google Scholar
  23. 31.
    Nicci Gerrard, Into the Mainstream (London: Pandora, 1989), 116.Google Scholar
  24. 33.
    Dibb et al., drawing on Peter D. Bennett, ed., Dictionary of Marketing Terms (Chicago: American Marketing Association, 1988), 18, for their own Marketing: Concepts and Strategies, 269–70, define ‘brand’ as ‘a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. A brand may identify one item, a family of items or all items of that seller.’Google Scholar
  25. 34.
    Jo Royle, Louise Cooper and Rosemary Stockdale, ‘The Use of Branding by Trade Publishers: An Investigation into Marketing the Book as a Brand Name Product’, Publishing Research Quarterly 15: 4 (Winter 1999/2000), 3–13, 3.Google Scholar
  26. 36.
    Royle et al., ‘The Use of Branding by Trade Publishers’, 5. They refer to Philip Kotler’s Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning, Implementation and Control (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996; 9th edn.).Google Scholar
  27. 42.
    Alex Hamilton writes in ‘Top Hundred Chart of 1996 Fastsellers’, in Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 1998 (London: A&C Black, 1998), 261–8, 262, that ‘Surveyed over a period, the fastseller lists indicate a rather conservative attitude on the part of buyers. It is not very common for a book to appear in the top 20 […] which has not [i.e. whose author has not] appeared somewhere on the list in previous years […] Once established on the list, an author has only to turn in a regular supply of similar works to stay on it.’Google Scholar
  28. 49.
    For example, William Dalrymple, From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium (London: Flamingo, 1998; paperback edn., first published in 1997);Google Scholar
  29. Amanda Craig, A Vicious Circle (London: Fourth Estate, 1997; paperback edn., first published in 1996).Google Scholar
  30. See Alan Powers, ‘Jeff Fisher’, in Front Cover: Great Book Jackets and Cover Design (London: Mitchell Beazley, 2001), 128–9. Powers comments on Fisher’s design for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin that ‘One day soon, students will write dissertations explaining the magnetic attraction of this cover design which, in an age of computer graphics, indicates the power of hand, eye, and paintbrush.’Google Scholar
  31. 56.
    Feminist publishing history is chronicled in Nicci Gerrard, Into the Mainstream, Patricia Duncker, ‘A Note on the Politics of Publishing’, in Sisters and Strangers: An Introduction to Contemporary Feminist Fiction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992),Google Scholar
  32. Eileen Cadman, Gail Chester and Agnes Pivot, Rolling Our Own: Women as Printers, Publishers and Distributors (London: Minority Press Group, 1981),Google Scholar
  33. Ursula Owen, ‘Feminist Publishing’, in Peter Owen, ed., Publishing: The Future (London: Peter Owen, 1988), 86–100, Florence Howe, ‘Feminist Publishing’, in Altbach et al., International Book Publishing, 130–8, and Carmen Callil, ‘Women, Publishing and Power’, in Writing: A Woman’s Business, 183–92, and most recently and in greatest depth in Murray’s Mixed Media.Google Scholar
  34. 62.
    Lucy Ellmann, Man or Mango? (London: Review, 1998);Google Scholar
  35. Ronan Bennett, The Catastrophist (London: Review, 1997).Google Scholar
  36. 64.
    Peter Straus, ‘Format’, in Peter Owen, ed., Publishing Now (London: Peter Owen, 1996; revised edn., 1st edn. 1993), 68–74, 73.Google Scholar
  37. 68.
    Alan Hollinghurst’s books are The Swimming Pool Library (London: Chatto & Windus, 1988), The Folding Star (London: Chatto & Windus, 1994), The Spell (London: Chatto & Windus, 1998) and The Line of Beauty (London: Picador, 2004). There wasn’t a named gay and lesbian section in any of the four bookshops on the dates visited.Google Scholar
  38. 70.
    Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (London: Routledge, 1994; first published in the UK in 1970; first published in France in 1966).Google Scholar
  39. 73.
    Jonathan Taylor, Chairman of Booker plc and The Booker Prize Management Committee, Introduction to Booker 30: A Celebration of 30 Years of The Booker Prize for Fiction 1969–1998 (Great Britain: Booker plc, 1998), 5.Google Scholar
  40. 78.
    Rose Tremain, Music and Silence (London: Chatto & Windus, 1999);Google Scholar
  41. David Cairns, Berlioz Volume Two: Servitude and Greatness 1832–1869 (London: Allen Lane, 1999);Google Scholar
  42. Seamus Heaney, Beowulf (London: Faber and Faber, 1999).Google Scholar
  43. 79.
    Kate Atkinson, Behind the Scenes at the Museum (London: Doubleday, 1995).Google Scholar
  44. 80.
    Ted Hughes, Birthday Letters (London: Faber and Faber, 1998).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Claire Squires 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claire Squires

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations