June 03, 2005


Adrienne Crew

Hi Mark,
Thanks so much for your dispatches from the BEA. I know it's tough transcribing on the fly. Just wanted you and your readers to know that Chris Jackson was referring to
Danyel Smith


all the best,

David Thayer

Mark, You're tired and jet lagged to be sure, but this is some your best reportage to date. Great job.



You need to show that the LBC sold more than a few hundred copies of Case Histories before you start handing our stupid prizes.

K.J. McWilliams

I just read your remarks about the 18-34 panel at BEA which I watched Sat. morning on BookTV! Thanks for your on-target comments! I am a former teacher and school librarian and now write children and YA books. I have often commented that the whole publishing industry needs to change some of their antiquated policies. For instance, one audience member said that nowhere in retail are items returned if they don't sell as books are returned to publishers. (And books are given such short shelf lives too!) The other major thing that needs to be changed in the publishing industry is publishing hardcovers followed by soft covers a year or two later IF the hardcovers have done well. As I said, I am a former librarian, so I know that most school, university, and public libraries buy hardcovers. But most individuals purchase the less expensive soft cover editions. Why not publish hardcover and soft cover simultaneously? Sometimes I want a book desperately, but I don't want to spend big bucks on the hardcover. But by the time the softcover comes out, I've forgotten about that particular title! I realize a few companies are publishing hardcovers and soft covers simultaneously, but I'm hoping the time will come for all publishers to do that. And I hope that the new young editors and publishers in publishing companies, large and small, will change some of these old policies--such as sending authors royalties EVERY SIX MONTHS!!!!!!!!!! And please don't acquire silly books on "Lazyness" and "Messiness", two books mentioned in the BEA panel discussion. If you are an author, you will be interested in my article "Gone Are Gone With the Wind Days" on Independentpublisher.com. Author of THE JOURNAL OF DARIEN DEXTER DUFF, AN EMANCIPATED SLAVE, THE DIARY OF SLAVE GIRL, RUBY JO, THE JOURNAL OF LEROY JEREMIAH JONES, A FUGITIVE SLAVE, and PIRATES by Karen McWilliams

Patry Francis

Yes, I think you are definitely right. The answer to the publishing malaise is to publish better books. Defining them, finding them and promoting them, however, will not an easy. And with the publishing industry tethered to the bottom line, I'm afraid the necessary creativity isn't there. The task may well fall to the bloggers.

Jim Ruland

I saw this on Book TV and when I heard Stein's comment about Homeland I wanted to hurl. Talk about demoralizing.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."


  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald


    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
  • The Rider by Tim Krabbe


    Tim Krabbé's superb 1978 memoir-cum-novel is the single best book we've read about cycling, a book that will come closer to bringing you inside a grueling road race than anything else out there. A kilometer-by-kilometer look at just what is required to endure some of the most grueling terrain in the world, Krabbé explains the tactics, the choices and – above all – the grinding, endless, excruciating pain that every cyclist faces and makes it heart-pounding rather than expository or tedious. No writer has better captured both the agony and the determination to ride through the agony. He's an elegant stylist (ably served by Sam Garrett's fine translation) and The Rider manages to be that rarest hybrid – an authentic, accurate book about cycling that's a pleasure to read. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."