Monday, October 10, 2011

Not What You Would Expect

I’ve watched some of these British cooking shows that look into the inner workings of restaurants and I kept hearing about Michelin stars. I thought, “that’s odd, in the UK Michelin is some rating organization for restaurants, but over here it is a tire company. Imagine my surprise when I looked up the Michelin Guide and discovered the tire man that is the Michelin tire company’s trademark. It made me wonder, how does a tire company become the symbol of excellence for restaurants.

Michelin guides were started as a means to provide travelers with information about the area they were traveling through and I’m sure they were also meant to keep the Michelin name in front of the owners of automobiles. Michelin’s goal was to sell tires by placing an advertisement in every car. To keep that advertisement in cars, they had to turn their guide into a trusted resource. The only way to do that is to be very selective in which restaurants they recommended. It wasn’t enough to just list the restaurants in the area, they began placing stars beside the names of those of higher quality.

I look at the publishing industry today and I see a lot of books being published. There’s over a million in the US each year. The publishers would like us to believe that their books are better than the self-published stuff, and yet, the publishers are just trying to sell their own books. I can’t help but wonder if what will eventually come out of this is that someone who doesn’t appear to be connected to the publishing industry will develop some kind of guide that will help us weed through all of these books. has done that to some extent, but it is in their best interest to encourage the sale of all books. There may be someone out there who will benefit not from the sale of books but by providing an accurate listing of the best books.

I also think about how it is that credibility doesn’t come from what we say we are but what we do. Who would have thought that a tire company could judge restaurants, but they do. We may tell people that we know what we’re talking about. We might have several English degrees. We might think that gives us the ability to judge books. But when we look at results, maybe it isn’t someone like that who will have a proven track record of finding the best books. Maybe it is a company that we wouldn’t expect.