Books don't need to be literary to be succeessful. We all know this. We see this every day. Da Vinci Code is such a super seller for such a long time now.
I often wonder, then, what is important? How do you know if a book is a success? What matters most? The readers' response? Sales? Reviews? The other issue is that of getting famous beyond the borders of your country. Is it important? Should it be actively sought? Or is it an automatic byeproduct of globalization? Premchand is India's greatest short story writer but who has heard of him outside India? And why did Naipaul travel to UK to become a writer?
On the other hand, there is the reader--the innocent reader. Writers write books for them. Publishers publish books for them. What do they think? What matters to them?
I guess all this marketing hype around books is so confusing for a normal reader. Is s/he succumbing to it? Why is everyone reading Harry Potter? These are some of the questions that have engaged my mind quite often.
I came across this interesting point of view while reading one of the blogs. An interview was mentioned there. It was novelist Mathew Branton's interview. Enjoyed reading his comments in The Independent.
He says: "It's because of this dumbing down, and our collusion in it, our acceptance of it, thinking that watching soaps every day is somehow authentic, thinking that buying chick-lit and lad-lit and Harry bloody Potter is okay because it's a meaningless holiday read, whatever. These things aren't okay. We're not Cool Britannia. We're a global laughing stock, with our Spice Girls and our Cockney gangster movies, and our artists who shit the bed and get paid for it, and our boarding-school wizards. And nothing else!"