Tuesday 13 July 2010

I am now a Merchant of Culture

Just completed a first class degree course in trade publishing and the “making of a bestseller” – at least I feel like I have after reading an advance copy of “Merchants of Culture”, by John B. Thompson, which is due out next month from Polity Press.

Don’t be fooled by the everyman sound of his name, this is an author with some seriously heavyweight credentials – a sociology professor at Cambridge, a fellow of Jesus College … a quick glance at his Wikipedia entry is enough to assure you that this is a man who does his research very thoroughly indeed and knows a thing or two about communicating the complicated stuff that’s in his head to the rest of us.

Brilliant title apart from anything else; I really like the idea of being a “merchant of culture”. I don’t know if the Prof came up with it himself or whether it was the result of a brainstorming session at Polity Press, but I bet it was one of those joyous “eureka” moments either way.

From now on whenever anyone asks me how they can get published or get a job in publishing I’m going to tell them to buy this book because it is simply perfect at summing up how the whole messy business works and explaining why it very frequently doesn’t work. I guess it is going to have to be updated fairly regularly, (the edition I received must have been sent to the printers too early to be able to mention the arrival of the iPad for instance), but even once it is a year or two out of date it will still teach a careful reader as much as any three year degree course on the subject.


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