Sunday, March 20, 2005

Gleanings From the Internet

Earlier this month The (a British site, not that there's anything wrong with that)carried an article called Rethink publishing...and expand the market with books people want. (Sure wish I could remember who directed me there, but since I can't...) Anyway, the article was about ways to sell more books to light- and non-buyers. Research, it said, indicates that people would buy more books if they were cheaper--and if more were available in supermarkets.

Then the article continued: "There is also a call for more credible descriptions on jackets to assist people in working out what's inside the book. Blurbs are widely mistrusted..."

I certainly mistrust them. How many times have I read a book covered with rave blurbs only to find that the blurber must have read something totally different from the book I was holding in my hand? It happens over and over again. I'm at the point now where I rarely bother reading blurbs until after I've finished reading the book. And then when I do, more often than not, I go, "What was she thinking?" and "Well, if this is his idea of a good book, I'll never read anything he writes." Personally, I wonder if some writers agree to blurb books just to get their names in front of readers. It's like another form of marketing for the blurber.

Okay, it's true. No one has ever asked me to blurb a book. But how could I ever agree to do such a thing? Let's face it, I don't really care for fifty percent--okay, sixty or seventy percent--of what I read. What am I supposed to say? "This wasn't the worst book I've ever read. It might not be a total waste of your time to give it a try?" Oh, yeah, I'm going to be a real popular blurber.

Ayelet Waldman was hammered by readers responding to her debut column onSalon. This has nothing to do with children's books or writing for children. I'm mentioning this to give myself an opportunity to observe that writers want columns the way entertainers want talk shows.

What exactly Waldman's column will be about is something of a mystery to me, but I find that to be the case with a lot of columns. A lot of talk shows, too.

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