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This book draws on Ray Walters' column Paperback Talk which ran in the New York Times Book Review from 1939 to 1984 It provides an invaluable account of how the trade is carried on by writers agents editors sales and promotion people wholesalers distributors and booksellers and readers

3 thoughts on “Paperback Talk

  1. says:

    This collection of old columns from the New York Times is completely outdated they run from the 60s through about 1985 which is sometimes amusing a column on airport bookstores asserts Most people who use airports are men traveling on business and a 1977 column on computer books wonders What will microcomputers be used for? The easy answer to perform chores around the house like controlling the lights heat and air conditioner and figuring out what's owed to the IRS Which is so silly because of course we have The Clapper to control our lights and certainly no one in 1977 could have foreseen what we do on our microcomputers today of course I speak of ChatrouletteThe topic isn't literature but the business of books I did learn some new facts like Jason Epstein started the Anchor Books imprint one of my favorites at Doubleday in 1953 Epstein of course is the current husband of disgraced NYT reporter Judith Miller Also he is one of the founders of the New York Review of BooksAnchor Books was the first trade paperback imprint I also learned the difference between trade and mass market paperbacks It's not size shape quality of paper price smell embossed day glo covers etc It's about distribution practices the covers of unsold mass market paperbacks can be ripped off and returned to the publisher for full credit the books themselves pulped whereas unsold trade paperbacks are returned whole Slight though this difference may seem it profoundly affects the way the books are promoted and sold the size of the first printings the royalties allowed authors That's data from 1982 anyway Who knows how things have changed? Not me How much longer will paperbacks last? Some execs at the New York Book Expo were opining that with the e book paperbacks are dead because publishers will only want to issue hardbacks and e books The simultaneous issuance of HB and e book was very upsetting to Scott Turow who come to think of it is like a fussy baby in a man's body Give that man a bottle or something