At a recent Book Expo in New York City, where publishers, authors, journalists, booksellers and others meet to network and to drum up interest in new titles (and books in general), one thing was obvious: this was the rare place in these United States where the political parties met without rancor.
To anyone who’s followed politics over the last few years (or tried to avoid following it), we are no longer a nation united. Political divisions are strong, politicians are intolerant, and political beliefs are hard and fast, offering little wiggle room for things like, um, reality.
But on the floor of the Javits Center in New York, none of this was evident. Even the most ferocious conservatives and left-leaning liberals were joined, as it were, by a common pursuit: to sell books.
I’m reminded of this by the recent death of Rodney King, the Los Angeles resident, a black man who was a victim of police brutality during the Los Angeles riots of 1991 and who later pleaded on television, “Can we all get along?”
Apparently we can’t. Unless we’re authors trying to move a message, whatever the message, to a highly diversified and easily distracted audience.
That’s the thing about books, and authors: everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to speak (or write) with a compelling voice.
For anyone building a platform to attract an audience to a message â€“ and many of the authors at Book Expo were big on platform-creation â€“ it doesn’t matter what your message is. That is, it doesn’t matter if you’re a conservative, a liberal or whatever: you want to be heard, read and, with luck, engaged with.
The publishing industry remains a great leveler, whatever its turmoil at this moment of digital upheaval and the uncertainty of the traditional model of putting out a book: It doesnâ€™t matter what you believe, as long as you attract readers.
If only government were so open.
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