Brand Recognition in Publishing (via @steampress)

Martin Latham blogs on about publishers squandering significant brand recognition through mergers.

Nobody knows who published Stieg Larsson. By this, I mean no normal customer—even a Larsson fiend—could tell you the publisher. This matters because readers follow particular publishers, and this silent relationship is a rich source of whole genres. For instance, Picador can take chances because it has a following of customers who expect edgy, often unpleasant tales, such as Ian McEwan stories in the 70s, and Emma Donoghue's Room in 2011.

It's an interesting thought: do you expect a certain quality of material, or a certain approach to a genre, based on the publisher?

Few other imprints have kept their audience so carefully. Pan, with its satyr flautist logo, gave us Ian Fleming and lurid thrillers. Collins, with its fountain logo, meant wonderful non-fiction. These two names have lost their discrete identity, but customers would still get their wallet out if they suddenly reappeared.

I know that Angry Robot Books has a reputation for quality writing. So does this mean that the indie presses are beginning to take over the distinctive qualities of old?

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