Monday, December 17, 2007

If you work in publishing and are looking for the next best thing

Look no further. I have a great idea for a book; "The big book of answers" (it's your job to come up with a snappy title). So, the idea is that book will collect the consensus views of the experts on a wide range of subjects. You get a professional economist to come up with a list of statements like, "The minimum wage is a net benefit for the poorest 10%" and "free trade benefits developing countries". Philosophers would be asked, "Do humans have free will?" and "does god exist" and stuff like that. Then get academics from the top 100 universities to answer.

The questions would cover topics sometimes covered in the news and that people usually have opinions on, so things like cloning and evolution would be covered. But the idea is flexible; surely it would be useful for academics (the questions could be altered to reflect the current topics of interest). I'm also not sure about the best way to present it. You could just have the list of questions and answers, or it could be less formal, like Schott's Original Miscellany.

There are plenty of ways in which the book's value would be limited. The consensus view has debatable relevance, the phrasing of the questions will not be value neutral and not everybody will agree on who the relevant experts are, but so what?! It would still be a cool book and it would be easy to refine in future editions to address these issues.

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