‘Any colour you like, as long as it’s black,’ said the revolutionary genius, Henry Ford, and smugly ushered in the twin worlds of mass production and mass culture. The impression of freedom and choice was everything to the mass economy of the West. That’s the price of affordability. Sameness. The Orwellian West was as committed to sameness as the East. A thing, or a person, had to more or less the same in order to belong. Today, diversity rather than sameness has become the key. Communities of interest, even individuals, grow ever more finely differentiated from each other. So we have niche markets instead of mass markets, narrowcasting instead of broadcasting, multimedia instead of the old mass media, and we search for points of common ground at which we communicate our unique and different understandings of the world. Publishing has not kept up with the new times. Publishing factories measure success by number of sales-per-title, rely on cumbersome warehouses, service capital-heavy bookshops, are fuelled by mass-production successes plus below-cost junking of work deemed only half-successful or a failure. In short, contemporary mass-publishers show an aversion to anything less than the mass-marketable. The Internet and new variable print technologies make this kind of business, this kind of cultural focus, obsolescent. The world has changed in ways which mean that mass-production publishing is more likely to be mindlessly predictable than a place of cultural vibrancy and innovation. Hence WorldWriting . . .

Seventeen Versions of Jewishness: 20 Examples

Twenty instalments of quintessential Lurie