The Sickness

Bestsellers make money. They do. And they get written about. Take John Locke. And money is great because you can get stuff and live. But to me, bestselling books are a sick marketing exercise, nothing less than playing on the fantasies of the masses.

If a book has a badly Photoshopped cover and/or a semi-naked woman or fangs dripping with blood or a title that sounds like a clichéd pick-up line, I won’t pick it up. Or the tag “romance”. But millions will. And yes millions will wank to porn and millions will listen to crap music and so on and so forth, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of trash and escape, hell, heaven can’t come soon enough. What is wrong is flooding the Amazons/libraries/bookshops of the world with such reeking turd so you get to a stage in which a decent book has no chance of getting read. No chance. No bookshelf space, readers just buying what their friends are buying, no virtual space as 99 billion under $1 Kindle books are written by marketers and businessmen. No space in the collective consciousness of people.

Too long has great literature been associated with depressing, hard to read stuff that’s not entertaining, outsider literature, what chin-stroking intellectuals read only. The normal stuff is the stuff in the charts, the stuff nominated for the Booker or the Orange Prize or getting recommended by Richard and Judy. That’s the stuff everyone’s talking about. And it’s sick, that’s what it is. A sick exercise in exploitation. As Robert Crumb points out in Crumb, people don’t have the intellectual capacity to see beyond this sickness. They just pick up the next must-have piece of shit. And everybody apes everybody else. Like when you see somebody eating something which makes you, in return, also feel hungry. This stuff is the Big Mac of literature. Sells big, tastes sweet, makes you feel terrible afterwards. But as terrible a metaphor as that might be, what can we do about this sickness apart from whinge about it on a forum or blog post?

Here are a few tips:

• Make a conscious effort to resist reading and believing in opinion. Find out for yourself based on educated fact.

• Set standards. Don’t read anything referred to as trashy or as a beach/airport read.

• Fight the power. Slam idiocy. Stand up for independent voices.

• Get laid.

So there you have it folks, a few non-marketing tips to set you on your way. Now I’m off to check out my sales report and sob in the corner of a poorly lit room.

Bogdan Tiganov

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