Perhaps the chains could offer access not just to randomly chosen customers but also those willing to pay a subscription fee. In somewhat the same territory, at least one technical publishing one house has let paying customers enjoy first looks at forthcoming titles.
No, like Ms. Rose, I’m not suggesting this be the sole method of determining which books get published. Think of the niche books or Moby Dick-caliber masterpieces—books ahead of their time—that might suffer. Mock ’em, but yes, sometimes well-educated young trends might actually identify books that are as brilliant as they are unpopular. Even today, let’s hope there is at least a little room for books published on the basis of sheer artistic merit. Must popularity be all, especially when e-publishing costs are lower than in p-publishing?
Just one more tool—not a full solution
Still, customer voting is one more tool for book marketers, who, given the less than awesome growth of most of the book industry in recent years, at least here in the States, might well benefit from experimentation.
(Thanks to Peter Brantley.)