Why writers publish books
This week, in amongst the usual rush to predict what a new year holds for readers, writers, and publishers, comes proof positive why books still seem to matter. Not just words, but words within what constitutes gravitas, authority, and meaning. We’re talking, of course, about Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. Setting the news agenda for days, we’ve seen extracts, cease-and-desist notices, claim and counter-claim, all centred around a publication rushed forward across the globe.
What makes this fascinating and relevant to those of us who work with writers and content owners looking to make their work publicly available in physical or digital book formats is the context of the last year. Trump and his administration have spent months hailing any critical TV broadcast, tweet or newspaper article “fake news”, any fact-bearing opponent a “loser” or “sad”. Black is white, white is black and who cares either way. But seemingly, put a series of interviews and anecdotes from the last 18 months inside a book and the denunciations start getting litigious; the weight of the accusations seem greater, the gravity of revelation from within the inner sanctum of the Emperor’s court more harmful and exposing.
Maybe we’re looking at this too deeply. Michael Wolff, at the last count, had published seven books and legions of magazine articles, none of which had actually caused the sky to fall in. But for those of us who some while ago hitched our wagon to the idea that there is a still a place in this world for good long-form content, for books and their right to be published alongside the instantaneous ephemera of the Snapchat generation, it has been a heartening week. Happy New Year.