Should you only publish a book because it sells?

I heard this quote from one of the publishing sages around my place of employment. I think it’s an interesting one to noodle on.

“Sometimes you publish books because they are significant, and their significance transcends the number copies it sells.” 

Have you read any books that you think transcend the number of copies the likely sold?


4 thoughts on “Should you only publish a book because it sells?

  1. Brad Porter

    Interesting quote! I feel like the same could be said of some movies. Although the box office may or may not reflect the value of a particular film, sometimes certain movies need to be made because of their intrinsic worth.

  2. Brad Porter

    Looking at cost vs. worldwide return:

    Assassination of Jesse James //
    Cost: $30M
    Made: $15M

    Che //
    Cost: $30M
    Made: $1M

    The Company Men //
    Cost: $15M
    Made: $5M

    The Double Hour //
    Cost: $4.3M
    Made: $2.7M

    The Proposition //
    Cost: $25M
    Made: $5M

    Some of these movies were even made with “Big Name” talent, so it’s not like they were just made in someone’s basement. And there’s a lot more out there too that, like these films, push cinema forward with new and interesting ideas. But sometimes that comes at a cost.

    Although I would probably say that going into production, nobody’s anticipating a loss on their investment. The cost is just too high to simply experiment with $30M! But some movies are certainly made with greater risk than others. Making a movie about risky content or in a non-traditional fashion is certainly a way to risk box office results. But sometimes it pans out like Malik’s most recent Tree of Life. Cost $32M and made $54M!


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