“Against the grain” can be used both figuratively and literally. Figuratively, it means going against what is considered acceptable behavior – for instance, if someone says, “I’m going against the grain by dying my hair blue,” this would imply they are doing something unconventional that may not be seen as acceptable behavior by their peers.
“Against the grain” means to move in an opposite direction to where something’s grain grows or points. For instance, if you were running your hand along a piece of wood grain, normally your hand would move identically as its grain; but to go against its grain, you would move oppositely.
When a book or its publisher chooses to go against the grain, they choose something contrary to mainstream or popular opinion for various reasons – perhaps making a statement, being different, or doing something new and different than before.
Going against the grain can be risky, as it could alienate potential readers or customers, but doing so can also be an exciting, creative, and financial adventure.
Recently, several publishers have made headlines by publishing books that go beyond traditional genre categories and explore controversial subjects – often leading to strong reactions among readers.
Though risky, taking this route can yield great rewards. Publishers could experience incredible growth when publishing groundbreaking books that push boundaries of what is possible while readers could gain access to undiscovered gems they would never have found otherwise.