Does American Publishing Have Too Much Influence on Global Book Culture?

In Discussion, Resources by Edward Nawotka

american flag

By Edward Nawotka

Today’s lead story features comments by Argentine-born Canadian writer, translator, and editor Alberto Manguel, who proclaimed at the recent Berlin International Literature Festival that “The [American] publishing industry has become, in the past 10–15 years, one of the worst and most dangerous things that has happened to the works of art and literature.”

Manguel is known, amongst other things, as being highly critical of the US. It’s unclear specifically to what he objects? It it the emphasis on digital publishing? That publishing focuses so much attention on bestsellers? Maybe it’s the global popularity of Twilight? Perhaps, it’s some combination of all three.

To properly engage with Manuel’s comments, we need more context, which we don’t have. But it is worth pointing out that if he objects to American publishing, he’s indicting more than just Americans: after all, most of the “Big Six” American publishers are actually owned by firms headquartered overseas.

With the Frankfurt Book Fair ahead of us next week, it’s important to remember going into such conventions without prejudices like Mr. Manguel’s.

Yes, Random House children’s division is going to be selling the rights to Modelland, a three part YA series that “that combines the fashion world with dystopian fantasy.” It’s author: Tyra Banks. It may not be the most highbrow series of books that will be sold at this year’s fair, but does this make American publishing “dangerous?”


Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.