Nodelman and Reimer recount the background changes which hve occurred in book publishing over the past decades -the large corporations, the mass marketing, the chain stores. It has become increasingly difficult for publishers to take risks on books which may break the mold of previous publishing choices. Publishers are concerned first with the bottom line and not first with the production and promotion of good ideas and good literature. The books need to make money. It is then difficult to produce a book which swims against the stream of mainstream culture. Books in series, books by well-known authors, books which tie into T.V. or video games are the norm.
There are two distinct markets of books – those which are produced for the public and those that are produced for the school. The influence of curriculum material and topics on the school market is apparent with the historical fiction series which allow ties across the language arts curriculum to the social studies curriculum. The curriculum which is the focus is not always a Provincial or Canadian curriculum but the literature is sometimes more suited to the American market.
I have not often thought about the broader societal influences on the books that I read and are available for my children and classrooms. I have often worked to avoid the popular series books and include works which I felt had more nuanced material. This certainly aligns me with the professional market which Nodelman and Reimer talk about. It will be interesting to see the influence of online publishing on this phenomenon. I expect it might be possible to ‘seed’ a good story and see how the online market reacts before publishing a book. Would this help or hinder the possibility of good and divergent text production? It’s hard to say. The Internet is also open to manipulation through marketing techniques. Perhaps the end result would not be that different. In the end, I suspect we must rely on a few small publishers at a local level producing the work that we need for the local market. Act locally.