Our Interest is Purely Intellectual

September 20th, 2004 · 1 Comment
by Booksquare

We think it’s okay to lie in headlines. Nobody believes them anyway, right? Sony’s acquisition of MGM is a minor source of fascination for us, not only because we were witness to Sony’s revamping of the MGM lot. We like the weird full circle aspect of the story.

But it makes us wonder: do brand names matter that much to the consumer? We’re not talking about Gucci or Prada — we’re looking at publishers (labels, studios). When you go into a store, do you think, “Wow, it’s the latest from HarperCollins.” When it comes to art, are corporate labels as importants as the artist or the product? We think it’s a bit of yes and no.

In genre fiction, corporate branding is critical. Harlequin is a prime example of this. You (the consumer) know what you’re getting; the author knows what they’re getting into. There is a comfort level derived from the name behind the product. But in the literary realm, does the consumer really have the same trust factor with publishers? Do we care who published Susanna Clarke’s book? Does the publisher of The Infinite Jest spring to mind? Is this something that only matters to a few egos?

Yes, it’s a day when our thoughts are all over the place. We will surely be more focused tomorrow.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/18/movies/MoviesFeatures/18note.htmlWhat’s in a Name? Winds of Change at Studios

File Under: Square Pegs

1 response so far ↓

  • Meredith // Sep 20, 2004 at 10:37 am

    It matters to me, somewhat. In science fiction and fantasy, I tend to trust Tor books, and some of their editors in particular. It doesn’t make me buy a book that doesn’t appeal to me on the face, but it does tip me over towards taking a chance when I’m wavering.

    Some other houses are the other way around — it doesn’t keep me from buying a book that grabs me by the throat, but if I’m not sure, the publisher’s track record can make me decide “meh, I’ll wait and see what my friends think.”

    SF is the only field I follow well enough to keep track, though. I read a lot of mysteries, focused microhistories, a few literary fictions, but not enough to have a sense of anyone’s lists.

    It’s mostly important for new, or new to me, authors, anyway. Once I’m familiar with an author’s work, the importance of their name as brand trumps all other considerations.

    Also, imprints matter more than their parent corporations. Their lines can be tightly focused enough to give a sense of what they’re looking for, whereas the newest from Penguin Putnam as a whole could be anything.