Saturday, May 29, 2010

Publicity Costs and Prizes

I was reminded yesterday by a visitor to this site of an article by Robert McCrum last October about trends which perhaps explain the move by UK prize administrators to charge winning publishers fees to cover publicity costs. The main thrust of McCrum's article is that globally fiction and fiction prizes are news which receive media coverage, but he presents this as a surprise (and something of a reassurance) in view of the UK situation. Once upon a time in the UK publicity for prizes was huge and free, he says, but now:
Yesterday, as I looked through the Sunday papers over breakfast, my thoughts began to turn to Tuesday's [Booker] prize-giving ceremony in London's Guildhall. Which TV channel would be covering it this year?

Flicking through the schedules, it's as if none of the terrestrial channels is prepared to touch it with a barge pole

and he finds the same situation with radio. Through this perspective, one can perhaps understand the move towards charging publishers, but this doesn't change the fact that the net effect is to discriminate against small publishers and to contribute to a squeezing of their (often groundbreaking) work from our culture.

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