Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Booker Prize isn't as important as a lot of folk think

Tim Worstall reports on a lefty professor's comments about the Booker Prize:
The Booker now has a stranglehold on how people think of, read, and value books in Britain. It has no serious critics. Those who berate its decisions about individual awardees (James Kelman’s prize back in 1994 prompted one judge to say it was “frankly, crap”) ritually add to its allure.
Thing is that, if we look at book sales in the UK, the Booker Prize is marginal at best. I remember reading a tale from SF writer Neal Stephenson where he talked about being at a literary event with a well-regarded writer of literary fiction. From memory it went something like this:

Writer: "So what do you do for a living?"

Stephenson: "I write"

It continued in the vein because the writer (a tenured professor at a good university) couldn't get to grips with the fact that Stephenson earned a very good living writing science fiction - indeed the Baroque Trilogy is one of the very best ever science fiction trilogies. All the writers this person knew had another job, most usually in or associated with a place of learning.

We need to remember that over half of book sales are children's books and non-fiction while 60% or more of adult fition sales are genre (crime, romance, fantast, science fiction, historical).


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