- publishing trends
- The most significant trend in the publishing industry in recent years has been its increasing concentration in the hands of international media conglomerates. In the 1980s and 1990s, a series of traditional London publishers have been bought out by major parent companies, most notably the simultaneous buyout of three independent houses— Jonathan Cape, Chatto & Windus and The Bodley Head—by the American firm Newhouse in 1987. Many of the subsidiary developments in British publishing—the use of increasingly aggressive forms of book publicity, the growing size of advances for a small number of big name authors, the new importance of literary agents who can broker huge deals for their clients, the vigorous attempts to sell British authors in other English-language markets in the USA and Commonwealth —can be accounted for in part by the more commercial instincts of these large publishers. Similarly, the increasing conglomeration of the industry contributed to the ending of the Net Book Agreement (NBA) in September 1995, which was caused by the withdrawal from the agreement of large international publishers like Random House, HarperCollins and Penguin. In fact, although it was predicted that the collapse of the NBA would lead to price-cutting which would benefit the large publishers and the most commercially successful authors, its effects have so far been minimal. In general, the commercialization of publishing since the 1980s has been offset by other developments, not least the survival of editors committed to less obviously commercial works even within corporateowned houses.A second major development in publishing in the 1990s has been the growing importance of interactive multimedia, particularly CD-Roms and pay-to-view on-line computer networks, as another way for publishers to sell text to readers. Although these new technologies are frequently said to be producing a ‘post-book’ age, it is too soon to say how comprehensively they will alter the nature of publishing. The books most affected have so far been children’s, reference and educational texts, and virtually no inroads have been made into the fiction market. In the area of fiction, the huge expansion in audio books, abbreviated works recorded on cassette by the author or an actor, has been more significant.See also: black literature press; feminist publishing housesFurther readingOwen, P. (ed.) (1993) Publishing Now, London: Peter Owen (includes short chapters by editors, publishers and agents, and is a useful insider’s look at developments in publishing in the 1980s and 1990s).JOE MORAN
Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . Peter Childs and Mike Storry). 2014.