Recent controversy about book awards and sales has been storming up the internet. The Hugo Awards apparently suffered some shenanigans, And we can’t forget the noise and thunder around K. T. Bradford’s challenge. As a total outsider to all of it, I can’t help but notice the dichotomy and opposing sides around this philosophical & political debate. I have trouble working up an opinion about it all, because I lack the proper experience to really comment on the fiction publishing industry. I never liked the voting method for the Hugo awards in the first place, Light knows we’ve needed more diversity in the scene for a long time. So I just don’t know how it all balances.
But I do know this. Book sales recently went back up a bit, but overall, people read less. In the age of blockbusters and comics and movies and CGI, encouraging the average consumer to pick up a book — any book at all — requires more sales, more marketing, and more know-how than before.
I worry that we’re losing the message that “you should read” by turning it into “who you should read.” Of course, that’s not enough reason to not have the diversity debate, because that’s as critical to the health of our industry as anything else. But I hope we watch the bottom line of total book sales carefully.