It has long been a truth of publishing that—much as in movies—a small number of hits generate the bulk of revenues, allowing producers to take a punt on future productions. What, though, if there were no longer any need to gamble on success? Book publishing is based on the principle that publishers control access to a scarce, precious resource—print. But digital media models, where the costs of publication and reproduction are almost nothing, tend to function the other way around: material is first published, then the selection process begins among readers themselves.
For all the weight attached to traditional models of discernment, it’s hard not to see a logic that’s already well-established in other fields gaining ground: put as much material as you can in front of an audience, and let them do the selecting for you. Then—when your best hope of a hit appears—maximise it relentlessly.