Welsh Book Publishing Needs to Prepare for Tough Times

From Planet 240

by Mike Parker

Mike Parker highlights how Welsh book publishing faces fresh challenges from philistine politicians, on top of a lack of interest from UK-wide gatekeepers and little visibility in the public sphere. He argues that the situation is exacerbated as among excellent publishers are some who need to better sharpen their titles and professionalism.

Granted, 2020 wouldn’t have been the year of choice to take on the job of Planet’s book review editor – the logistical hurdles, as for everything, have been fierce – but all the same, I’m finishing my stint with rather a heavy heart. There are so few outlets for critical assessment of Welsh literature. It barely blips across the radar of the UK press, let alone beyond these shores, and the Welsh media is largely content, if they bother with books at all, just to regurgitate press releases. One publication I know of – and I’m sure it’s not alone – fulfilled its literary quotient by getting an author to compose a pretend interview with himself. Twice.

You’d hope that our publishing houses would cherish the tiny number of genuine critical outlets, and while most do, some really don’t seem to. Too often, I’ve had to beg repeatedly for review copies that still never showed up, despite endless airy promises. And though the pandemic explains some of the glitches, it is striking how it is always the same few publishers that run into ‘problems with the post’, while others never do. Furthermore, I’ve done this job a few times over the last five years, and this is no new phenomenon.

Sign in to read more
Subscribe here