You might be on Facebook, dear reader. You might "like" German publishers. You might be amazed at some of the things they get up to there.
It's not so much the persistent cat content-level crap - the photos of wacky bookshelves, the "Today is international chocolate day. Thumbs up who likes chocolate!!! ;-)"-type like-grabbing that makes publishers look interchangeable with any other commercial enterprise. Because let's face it, many publishers are interchangeable with any other commercial enterprise. I think what bothers me most is the apparent need to get in your face at least once a day, regardless of whether they have anything to report. You'll often get news-related posts, which aren't always well thought out. My favourites so far have been "International Writers in Prison Day - buy our calendar" and "Hurricane Sandy floods New York - buy our book about New York subway stations". I'm waiting for "Bubonic Plague hits Calcutta - buy our book on beautiful Indian textiles".
I'm noticing this extra specially much at the moment, because it's advent. The Germans make a big fucking deal out of advent. You're supposed to make decorations out of fir trees and candles and hang them on your front door. You're supposed to know how many Sundays there are until your annual church visit on Christmas Eve and count them down using more candles and fir trees, wishing people a "good second Sunday before Christmas" in a cheery way. And of course you're supposed to have an advent calendar, preferably one you made yourself when you were six out of raffia and cotton wool. Good parents will put little healthy treats in 24 cloth bags on a string for their healthy children. So of course good publishers want to give their Facebook fans saccharine crap once a day throughout December.
Now I'm not naming names here, but you'd be surprised at the levels to which publishers I'd previously considered highbrow will sink. They'd have you making up rhymes and guessing the number of chocolates left in the box and sending in photos of your cat in order to win a free book. Publishing people! Just because we're pathetically addicted to social networking, you don't have to treat us like idiots! Actually, there is an exception to prove the rule (now that was the turn of phrase I was looking for last time): Literaturverlag Droschl, which is giving us tiny soundbites from its books once a day. Like.