• Harrit A. Kingma

Too many new book titles are already a problem and Covid-19 made it worse

So much worse even that this week, one well known French publisher and a Dutch literary agency reached out to the general audience not to send in any new manuscripts anymore.

Ordered it but not received it

Heck! As an avid reader I already have for years the problem, which books do I really need to read. Having so many interests and therefore so many available titles it is important to discriminate the must reads versus the nice-to-haves. Amanda Gorman’s inauguration speech for Joe Biden was actually a no-brainer as her performance made me immediately want to buy her book ‘The hill we climb’. Together with millions of others apparently as this not even published book made it instantly to the Amazon hitlist with a #1 position.

Many book publishers receive 20-30 manuscripts … per day, every day of the week! Covid-19 has kept many wannabee authors at home, finding time to finish their long-awaited novel, life story or otherwise glorious insights in the challenges of life in general. Of course, writing a book might have therapeutical effects for the would-be author him- or herself, for the publisher the nightmare then only starts.

Not one publisher wants to miss out on the new Harry Potter, a commercial bestseller that will pay for many other literary aspirational writers’ efforts. Most publishers anyhow appear from a personal perspective to be more interested to bring the next, Charles Bukowski, Haruki Murakami or even better the next Nobel Prize winner as Louise Glück (2020) to the forefront. But they need cash-cows as well.

Too many manuscripts

With 20-30 manuscripts per day, or even per week, a publisher will not be able to truly assess the merit of all those manuscripts. Most likely such a publisher will quickly check for the authors’ name, does it ring a bell? Well, errr … no, then exit! Is the topic of interest? An introspective into the authors’ youth ... well, we already have quite some of those in our portfolio. Exit again. Is it reasonably well written? Few would-be authors understand and accept that their manuscript usually requires quite a makeover, guided by an editor providing how-to guidelines on everything ranging from setup, sentence structure to avoiding overly literary vocabulary. So, despite FOMO, the fear-of-missing-out at publisher level, over 95% of all manuscripts hardly get a serious reading by one or more editors.

Why BookGuruz

And then with 98% ultimately thrown in the bin, we still see by far too many new book titles coming up on the shelves, thereby obscuring the books-that-matter. Just a few numbers re new titles every year; US 304.000, UK 188.000, France/Spain/Germany close to 100.000. Even a small country as the Netherlands produces over 16.500 new titles annually. Unfortunately, not all these titles are books-that-matter. On the contrary even …

Therefore BookGuruz provides for eclectic readers, a limited selection of titles of books-that-matter.