Are there too many books, television options, and movie choices?
When I was a kid, I used to look forward to reading the
annual fall preview issue of TV Guide. This was the edition that would
help me plot what I was going to watch for the upcoming year. That weekly
magazine, the size of Reader’s Digest, was my favorite thing to comb
through, as I was always searching for something unique and interesting to
Think 1980. I was 13 and TV was king back then. No cable, no streaming, no 24/7 programming. Our viewing choices came down to just three networks, a few local indie stations, PBS, and a Spanish station that didn’t pass through the rabbit ears clearly. But because of the lack of competition, every show back then could get tens of millions of viewers. Large chunks of the nation watched the same exact show simultaneously. It was a shared, communal experience that kept many people in tune to the same things.
Well, we have changed a lot since then. There are a zillion viewing options now, including whatever could be found on the Internet. But with that variety of choice comes a burden: What to watch? Because so much is offered, we could spend all day trying to decide what to watch. As s result of all of these choices, we are not on the same page as a society.
We are scattered into little self-selected silos.
While three million watch one show, 13 million watch another, while 600,000 watch a baseball game, 200,,000 watch one news show while 170,000 watch another. You get the point. Society is not united, in part, because of which information, ideas, and entertainment is fed to each of us. Not enough of us take in the same content at the same time.
Imagine if a classroom used 24 different textbooks on one subject. How would students learn the same thing that way?
Now let’s look at books. They too have exploded with variety to the point readers are scattered in what they consume. And because of revisions to school curriculums based on cries for social equity, a reading of the classics is giving way to reading non-traditional stories. We literally are not on the same page, as everyone is reading something else.
Even today’s bestsellers are getting shafted. Very few books sell over one million copies in a given year. Sometimes none. This means a wildly successful book is ignored by more than 99% of Americans. If we don’t read some of the same books, how are we supposed to even understand or work with each other? Where is that common core knowledge that can serve as a foundation for society?
I know what you are thinking: What is wrong with people reading what they want and getting beyond collective thought? Plus, even if we don’t read the exact same book for a point of reference, we can still consume some of the same principles and ideas espoused from a variety of authors, right?
There is merit to those points but the bigger issue of America being fractured, in part, because of the content gap, looms large. Just as certain core principles are needed to be adopted by all — such as our Bill of Rights, the Ten Commandments, and other legal standards or ethical philosophies — we also need to find a way to get society to agree on some of the content, in all forms, that it will consume.
Does this mean there are too many books published?
I wouldn’t ever be able to say that one bas no right to publish a book, but each author has a responsibility to only publish that which is necessary, well done, or desired. In other words, writers should honestly refrain from releasing sub-par or mediocre books. And it is up to consumers, bookstores, the media, social media, and bookstores to set standards of what it will accept and embrace.
Right now, 5000 new titles invade a crowded marketplace every 24 hours. More than ever, society needs a filtering mechanism to help us zero in on the few books the majority needs to embrace. It is good that we all read different things and bring a variety of knowledge to the table, but it is also vital that at least a handful of books get much wider acceptance. Our collective good will depend on it.
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About Brian Feinblum
Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter
@theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2022. Born and
raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and
Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The
Writer and IBPA’s The Independent. This blog, with
over 4,000 posts over the past decade, was named one of the best book marketing
blogs by BookBaby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and
recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing
blogs. It was also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” For
the past three decades, including 21 as the head of marketing for the nation’s
largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has
worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along
with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth,
Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey
Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Susan RoAne,
Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a
panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, IBPA,
Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers
Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, and Connecticut Authors
and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published
in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News,
Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The
Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun
Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information,
please consult: linkedin.com/in/brianfeinblum.