The old newspaper reporter’s adage has it that freedom of the press extends only to those people who own one. The material philosophy that leads to this conclusion can also be applied to the business of book publishing. Newspapers are intended to be ephemeral products, lasting only a day or two before they are discarded. Books are designed to be more permanent, lasting through a few readings, in the example of mass market paperbacks, to texts designed to last for centuries, as in the case of volumes intended for libraries. As such, books require larger capital investments to produce than do more short-lived forms of information.
Because of the size of investment necessary to produce and distribute books, strict editorial policies direct most publishing houses. As competition has increased over the years, theory would have it that a freer range of ideas should be the result, expressed by the metaphorical phrase “the marketplace of ideas.” That the opposite is the case has been noted by many critics of the modern publishing industry, and many have equated the current trend toward fewer and fewer publishing outlets as a form of censorship exercised by the multinational corporations that own most of the major European and American publishing companies.