Wednesday, 30 April 2014

More US fiction Titles?

Amazon Publishing plans to increase activity in the UK. President Jeff Belle says the company plans to release 500 titles in 2014. Included will be US-acquired titles as well UK-acquired titles.

Cynic I may be but I fear this may mean more and more of our bookshop shelves will be taken over by US authors. They want us to buy their books, of course they do, just as we want them to buy ours. I look along my library shelves and even there, more and more books are set in US locations, about US people and written in the US style. Bookshops are the same. It's the numbers that worry me. Even Facebook and Twitter sound American because there are so many more of them than us. We get drowned out by sheer volume. all the strange rules about avoiding -ing endings and not using was and were - I'm convinced they originated in the US. 

There is a difference in style. Not so much in the literary end of fiction, perhaps, but in the mid-range romances and historicals it is easy to spot the feisty heroine who behaves like a 21st century girl and say Ah! Here we go. A transatlantic version of history, spiced up and usually sexed up. Heroes don't speak, they grit, they swipe, they swoosh.... It's the small things. Remember the film Prince of Thieves where Kevin Costner landed by the white cliffs of Dover and next day arrived at Hadrian's Wall?  I read a romance where the heroine was stranded in the middle of Scotland, escaped through a dungeon and came out on the sea coast. Is that possible? It is not.

I like the more sober, more accurate versions of history (well, most of them) produced by UK authors. I want to read more of them, not have them drowned out or overlooked. I think I can say I'm not altogether happy about Amazon Publishing. Do they plan to publish UK authors in the US? Does anyone know? That might make it a more palatable prospect, but somehow, you know, I doubt that it will happen. 

It's obviously my day for a rant today. Tomorrow I shall be sunny and smiling - but I won't be blogging!


Jen Black said...

Margaret Scott Chrisawn commented:
"I agree with you completely on the woeful distinction between most historical fiction written by Americans and that written by British authors. I could cite chapter and verse from books written by Americans that are replete with historical, geographical, cultural, social, and political inaccuracies, not to mention your spot-on note about feisty heroines and grunting heroes. Whether or not Amazon deluges the UK with American authors is not the real issue, because I'm thinking UK readers will see the difference and stay away, far away. I can tell the degree of discernment, in part, by the real difference in reviews on versus those on less five-star gushing in the UK over many an American bit of empty-headed historical crap. I know this because I review in both places. So I wouldn't worry overmuch."

Jen Black said...

I hope you are right, Maggie!