Friday, March 20, 2015

Book Publishing’s Birdman Dilemma

After just viewing the Oscar-winning Birdman this past week, I found myself thinking back to the weird but well-done film and couldn’t help but wonder if the messages in the movie relate similarly to the book industry and authors.

If you haven’t yet seen the movie, I recommend it, though it is at times confusing and arresting.  No need for a spoiler alert but I will give you an understanding of what the film, starring Michael Keaton and Edward Norton, is about.

Keaton plays a theater owner-playwright-producer-actor who desperately wants his play to succeed after sinking his lifesavings into it.  But his character is haunted by his past success as an actor in a blockbuster superhero series known as Birdman. Nagging questions such as these persist:

·         Can he really act – or was he just a guy wearing a suit?

·         Can Hollywood – or an actor – produce something real and commercially successful that doesn’t involve action-filled superheroes?

·         How much do actors separate their real lives from their screen personas?

These questions are raised throughout the movie and could easily be applied to book publishing and writers.

·         Can an author really write a great book – and not just be a formulaic hack that feeds a reading public what it thinks it wants?

·         Will publishing take a risk and invest in publishing and promoting books and authors beyond the type of books that are assumed to be commercially viable?

·         How much do authors come to life in their books and how do they live out the books they write?

Birdman exposes some really important questions about the business and craft of movies.  Hollywood is hopefully not just a money-making industry – but one that breeds art and fosters a cultural exchange.

Book authors and movie actors have a lot in common, struggling to make money as talented individuals who hope not to have to stoop to doing their industry’s “porn.”  But the consumer bares some responsibility in the quality of art it receives, based on what it chooses to financially support.  Publishers and Hollywood merely feed people the junk food consumers appear willing to pay for.  Perhaps Birdman will help us break that pattern and we’ll begin to see the true art that exists out there – and then the talented writers and actors will see themselves as something special.


2015 Book PR & Marketing Toolkit: All New

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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