What Craft Beer & Books Have in Common
I love beer. Actually, I take that back. I love great beer. I am not alone.
In the past decade, the number of breweries in the U.S. has doubled, driven by the craft brewing movement and the desire to enjoy something unique. We could say this is simply an excuse to drink more great beer, which may be partially true, but at the heart of this is the desire of Americans to feel connected to something real, something tangible, something made with care, something local. We want to be connected to people with passion. Craft beer offers this opportunity, and the trend can be seen repeated in so many other markets, from wines to farm-to-table restaurants to hand-crafted furniture. In all of its manifestations, this movement is a small scale but powerful rebuttal of the mass-produced, mass-sold, made-somewhere-else culture that pervades America.
I love great books, too. I love great authors and beautifully printed illustrated works. But publishers can do more to connect directly with their readers the way craft brewers have with their consumers. We should remind readers-and ourselves for that matter-that craft is an important and soulful part of book publishing.
A reader immersed in a beautifully illustrated book or a rich story, will intrinsically understand that they are connected to a socially conscious author and publisher, and they are therefore contributing to a better society and richer culture by supporting that art. Like that first sip of a great craft beer or taking in the beauty of a piece of handcrafted furniture, the reader will understand that great hands have passed over that book from authors to editors to designers and beyond. Publishers have the perfect opportunity to build bridges between their authors and the people that are passionate about their ideas.
Publishers and authors can set the conversation and make the connections, and not concede that to a faceless internet giant or recommendation engine. Speaking and selling direct to readers is not only about consumer analytics or scale, but about craft and passion, about the power of reading and the power of a book to deliver important ideas and stories. Oftentimes, the greatest reward a publisher derives comes not from a major customer, but from interactions with those that share the same ethos.
Related story: The 2015 Book Business Buyer’s Guide