THAT IT IS MORE OF AN ART THAN A science is one of publishing's greatest glories, but it is also one of its most obstinate liabilities. The decision to acquire a book is drawn from such intangible values as taste, instinct, and passion. Yet these qualities may stand squarely in opposition to many relentless business realities. The tension between these values is as ancient as art itself and will never be satisfactorily resolved. But that is no reason why publishers should not strive to research such factors as distribution patterns, consumer habits, marketing efficiency, and return on investment, and to apply their findings to the formulation of sound business judgements.
Until recently, the state of market research in publishing ...