Sunday, January 15, 2012

Market Democracy

Where 'democracy' means that the people rule, or the majority rules, 'market democracy' means that the market rules. So if the market wants chick lit, the market will get chick lit. You know this because chick lit sells, so that must mean the market wants it.

There is no counterfactual: Does thoughtful, critical commentary that lambasts, say, the lack of quality in broadcast news sell? We don't know, because we can't try. There's the possibility that the publishing house is owned by the same people who own, or are 'good friends' with the new media house under criticism. So we'll never find out if a book that tells you how the Indian media did the mind-numb to themselves will fly off the shelves, or languish unregarded in corners .

But the reason given for not trying to put such books out  there for people to choose from is that 'the market' does not want thoughtful, critical, commentary on the media. 'The market' only wants chick lit, campus novels, and various other kinds of (let us say, to be kind) less-thinking reading. As some of my students pointed out last semester, there's no argument that Chetan Bhagat is India's best selling author, there's just a problem for young people wanting to read other kinds of material.

What much of the media in India has done to itself will take several tomes to record, and those tomes will, of course, fall prey to market censorship. But, thankfully, there is alternate media, and here is crocodileinwatertigeronland, telling you why you get that hollow feeling in your head when you open the morning newspapers:

crocodileinwatertigeronland on your morning paper


Beq said...

There is indeed no counter-factual. Well said!

Anonymous said...

Ergo, publishers and the MSM expect people to be stupid. And that, Dr. Devalina, in the long term, is a self-fulfiling prophecy. Publishers print crap, which is read by kids who grow up to be idiots since they have grown up reading crap. Thus crap keeps selling and getting published.

Sujoy said...

Somewhere the suits took over and found the least cost way of manufacturing literature which the marketing managers promoted...its truly a production and retail model.

Devalina said...

@beq: I'd actually really like a realistic picture of an alternate world, with a properly informed public. Nonesuch arises. Let me know if you can think of one :)

@anon: its a vicious circle. But this one seems to have an identifiable starting point. I don't think the kids were idiots first :)

@sujoy: of course. Thats why Chetan Bhagat retails through Big Bazaaar. And why they no longer as in the big houses, which books, but how many.

Deep said...

Hear hear!
Also, thank the gods for crocodileinwatertigeronland.

Anonymous said...

but you really "don't think the kids were idiots first :)"? Even if you do not, it is not a vicious cycle - it is a plan to create a structure which allows low quality to survive. If effort is costly, then as a publisher I would try to make this prophecy work out, won't I?

Devalina said...

@Deep: CrocodileTiger is one of the few things that makes me thankful that i inhabit this particular portion of the time-space continuum. In all seriousness. And thank you.

@Anon: Totally. And similar in basic structure to the chicken and the egg-- after a point, it becomes really difficult to tell beginnings from ends, or junction points. And as a hypothetical publisher, i think you would.