Publishers: Balancing Social Responsibility and Profitability
As a young father (many years ago) my favorite time of day was the quality time I spent reading books to my 2 children. Of course, times did seem simpler then (maybe I was more naïve, or maybe it was before the 24-hour news cycles and social media). But it seemed that every topic that I thought they should be aware of I was able to find a book that related to that topic.
As a wizened grandfather, I am not so lucky. I find that the topics my three grandchildren need to know about are not always on the bookshelf, or even online, unless I spend the time to search for groups or recommendations. Understanding and accepting diverse perspectives is a cornerstone to living in a better world than we are today. We need to teach upcoming generations about this when they are young, before biases and outside influences from places like social media set in.
The Publishing Industry Needs to Keep Up with the Rest of Corporate America
I have been in the publishing Industry most of my career, and I understand how mainstream publishing companies function. Like most organizations, they need to show a profit to their shareholders or owners and they are risk averse because of the litigious and divided society we live in (and due to of the economics of publishing unknown authors).
However, don’t all corporations owe society a debt to help improve the world? In a letter to the CEOs of companies he invests in, ‘A Sense of Purpose’, the CEO of Blackrock Larry Fink talks about the IMPACT ECONOMY, where even the richest corporations must understand the need to give back to keep our society sustainable.
Another example of this is The Giving Pledge, which is a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to giving back.
Independent Authors Can Help Mainstream Publishers Give Back
When I read an article called ‘Want More Diversity but Less Risk?’ by Medeia Cohan in The Bookseller online magazine, I felt every publisher should read it and learn that there are new ways of taking action emerging that contribute to a better world and make a profit at the same time.
In this article, Medeia says:
“More and more parents and children’s authors are identifying gaps in the market, or are responding to not seeing themselves or their stories represented on the bookshelves of their libraries and bookstores. Motivated by wanting our children to grow up in a world where they have relatable heroes, recognizable scenarios and helpful information for dealing with complex issues, huge numbers of first-time writers are taking to the internet to self-publish and innovatively market their books.”
“Indie authors should try to secure a commercial publishing mentor and a licensing agent to help them stand on the shoulders of giants and reach global audiences. Does this approach mean that independent and self-publishers still bear the brunt of the work, cost, and risk? Yes. Does it allow for large commercial publishers to take the easy route to doing ‘a good thing’ without taking any risks themselves? Probably”.
Independent Authors provide publishers with access to diverse material that can bridge the gap between mainstream publishing and society’s desire for access to diverse topics and points of view. As the youth (and adults!) of today face more pressures and challenges than ever before, providing literature that informs, comforts, and gives back to society is more important than ever.