>If They Could Turn Back Time

>The Boston Globe‘s David Mehegan takes a look today at the evergreen topic of boys and reading, focusing on a pair of Houghton Mifflin veterans who are repackaging, for Sterling Publishing, the old Random House nonfiction Landmark Books series for a new generation of boys. We’ll see. Leonard Marcus is quoted as being a little doubtful; thinking back to my parents’ attempts to interest me in the Tom Swift books of their childhood, rather than the Danny Dunn books of my own makes me wonder, too. Times change. So do boys.

And who says that boys don’t read? How soon they forget the wizard knob.

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Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

Comments

  1. >I agree, time will tell. In theory this is not a bad idea, but it remains to be seen if boys really want to read what could be kindly referred to as dated materials.

    The link to Leonard Marcus’s web site reminded me I have his newest, Pass it down on my list to read (checked out to me on my shelf).

  2. >let us hope they will choose a GOOD designer and not just reissue the books as “classics”

  3. Andy Laties says:

    >The depressing thing about this story is that it’s such bad business journalism. Let’s note that the REASON a packager does a deal to grab out-of-print copyrights (no origination costs! woo-hoo!) and also does a deal to publish/distribute through Sterling/Barnes & Noble is because Barnes & Noble bookstores have incredible distribution power. B&N/Sterling is a publisher that has direct control over bookstore shelf-space nationwide. (Sterling books are primarily sold via Barnes & Noble.) And therefore these reissued Landmark books have guaranteed distribution.

    Not only that: Barnes & Noble has limited shelf-space, so the launch of this Landmark non-fiction line means that OTHER much better, more contemporary, accurate, well-illustrated children’s non-fiction will be bumped from the shelves, bumped from future opportunities to be bought by B&N. There will be less space for them on B&N shelves because Landmark books will occupy those shelve on which the new books would have been placed. (Also, B&N will not wish to have other publishers’ books there to compete with their Sterling-published Landmark books.)

    These repackaged 50s Landmark books will beat out all the cool new books.

    Barnes & Noble already has a similar deal with Lerner Publications: B&N has a plexi rack in the children’s non-fiction section filled with mediocre repackaged formerly-out-of-print Lerner biographies, in uniform format. They have cut back on their purchase of current biographies from leading publishers of children’s non-fiction. (I’ve had industry conversations aplenty on this subject with editors.)

    This is a business deal, and it’s a smart business deal for all directly concerned. It’s a disaster from REAL publishers doing new editorial work on new titles: it will subtract shelf-footage from possible occupancy by these new books. Thus it’s bad news for the kids, who should have access to current books. Famous authors are fine, but what about new research?? This is non-fiction, after all.

  4. >I have three sons. To say that they are not fond of reading would be an understatement.

    But they do like nonfiction–especially the youngest.

    Don’t be so quick to dismiss the “older” books. My son recently went to the library and came home with books for an Abraham Lincoln report. His favorite has a copyright date of 1966. To my designer/illustrator eye it has a “dated” look (even if I personally find it also comforting, having grown up in the 50′s and 60′s). But having a 60′s graphic presentation didn’t matter to my son one bit.

    I was very happy to read the article about the forthcoming books. The first thing I thought was: My son will like these. I actually think the books have a shot at doing very well.

  5. Andy Laties says:

    >You’re saying you’re happy that your son is doing his report utilizing 40-year-old material??

    I don’t care about graphic presentation. There has been a ton of Lincoln scholarship in the last 40 years.

    The idea of what’s appropriate have changed. Didn’t that lovely D’Aulaires bio of Lincoln that won them the Caldecott end on an upbeat note, BEFORE he was assassinated? Come on. It’s that sort of eliding of critical material that is not longer acceptable in current non-fiction. I think it’s fine for kids to read the older brand of “sweetened” non-fiction — but the should definitely have access to things like the Newbery-winning Russell Freedman “Lincoln: A Photobiography.” And once again, when budgets are limited, the question is “How will the money be allocated?” These reissues do not represent the best use of library dollars and its depressing to think that they could win out over superior, more current scholarship just because librarians are nostalgic for “sweetness” in non-fiction.

  6. >Do you have statistics which show librarians are “nostalgic for ‘sweetness’ in non-fiction?” I’m tired of librarians getting beaten up without any real basis in hard fact.
    Marian

  7. >Andy,

    What are the cool books you prefer for boys 10-15 who like to read non-fiction?

    I have three, they all enjoy muse and calliope magazine. My 11 year old enjoyed the recent biography of Madame Curie, but I can’t remember the author. they all read non-fiction, and i know that they would love narrative non-fiction. like you, i am little concerned by dated material, but off the top of my head, i can’t remember much recent work in the same vein as the old landmark books. we’ve found good non-fiction, usually in a large trim size with lots of good pictures, but they offer a very different experience than narrative non-fiction like say, “A leg to stand on,” by Oliver Sacks, or the Krakauer book where the prose is the book.

    What narrative non-fiction do you recommend? I’d love some suggestions.

    ~h

  8. >It’s such a sweeping statement to say that today’s boys do not like nonfiction.

    Shall I say …stereotype?

    Is that to also imply girls only like pretty pink fictional stories?

    I hope children’s book publishing doesn’t succumb to these stereotypes. Too often I feel this is becoming the case.

    Bring back more nonfiction! The old stories, frequently extemely well-written, expected children to have a certain high level of fluency with language and an insatiable curiosity. Our children deserve this level of writing. The more, the better.

    Good luck to Landmark, and may they prove successful!

    M

  9. >Roger,

    Wasn’t there a discussion here some time ago about librarians who say “girls read, boys don’t” because girls read the books librarians like and boys are out reading magazines and non-fiction and fiction-centric librarians say that’s not “real” reading?

    h

  10. >I can’t even get readers interested in Danny Dunn anymore, never mind non-fiction classics….

  11. >”You’re saying you’re happy that your son is doing his report utilizing 40-year-old material??”

    Andy, I am thrilled that my son is using books, period. So many times it is easier to just do a Google search.

    He is only 10 and his project was a report, a 5 minute presentation, and a poster. I think he found a comfort level with the older books he chose. Does it really matter if the book that suits his young, fifth grade boy purpose is from 1966? I don’t think so, but maybe I am just “of a certain age” to be nostalgic myself. Or maybe that ‘s what was on the library’s shelf.

    Are there more “critical” books and materials out there? Of course. Does it matter in this case? No. He liked doing his report from a ten year old’s point of view and was inspired to write more than I have ever seen him write on a research project before. I happen to think that perhaps the “sweetness” of the books might be the reason. I am sure that if he were to really do some serious research on Lincoln down the road in high school or college, he would go right for Doris Kearn Goodwin’s latest book on him.

    But, hey, I am nostalgic for sweetness in any form nowadays, so my take is colored on this. I guess I do not understand why “sweet” is perceived as bad or if it is even the right term to use. Perhaps the correct phrase, though, might be “very child friendly.”

  12. Roger Sutton says:

    >I think Andy is using “sweetened” to mean cleaned- and tidied-up for young readers. I also don’t see librarians as a big market for these books, lacking as I think they do indexes, notes, etc.

    Incidentally, I just read a really boy-friendly and exciting middle-school novel, Peak by Roland Smith, due from Harcourt in May. It’s about a contemporary boy who attempts Everest with his famed-mountaineer father.

  13. >obviously “sweetened” does not mean pretified; why has everyone got sidetracked by this misunderstanding? READ THE COMMENT BEFORE ATTACKING THE WRITER

  14. >It’s not obvious. Think before attacking anononymously.
    Marian

  15. KT horning says:

    >Personally, I think the books will appeal mostly to nostalgic parents and grandparents. Most librarians weeded those books from their collections long ago because the books not only looked dated, they were dated. Who wants a book about the FBI published in 1954 or a book about space exploration from 1967?

    I had a college roommate who used to pass the time in boring lectures by listing all the titles she could remember in both the Landmark and the Childhood of Famous Americans series. The most memorable were:

    “The Coming of the Mormons” in the Landmark series

    “Jane Addams: Little Lame Girl” in the Childhood series

  16. >I am surprised to think that anyone felt someone was”attacked.” I thought we were having an intelligent, pleasant, back and forth discussion about our favorite topic: books for children, and in my case, boys, especially.

    BTW, I am eager to get this new novel by Roland Smith. Sounds like it will be perfect for my son.

  17. Andy Laties says:

    >As to contemporary narrative non-fiction I can very happily recommend Kathleen Krull’s new Giants Of Science series, published by Viking. “Isaac Newton”, “Leonardo da Vinci”, Sigmund Freud”.

    By the way, I do not mind having anything I say challenged in any way. I love a feisty discussion.

    And, by “sweetened” I actually meant FALSIFIED. “Cleaned up” is a nice way of saying this.

    I mean, I think that it’s deeply fascinating for instance that Abraham Lincoln had serious battles with what we would now call mood disorders & depression. Many children battle mood disorders. I want 10-year-olds to know that Abraham Lincoln as a young man was deeply, profoundly sad — so sad that his friends were very very worried about him. And then, he decided that the only way for him to feel like he could get over his deep sadness was to try to make a big difference in the world, for good. I mean: this is the stuff that is “sweetened” up?? We don’t learn as young children that our “heroes” were motivated by the very qualities that make them human?? That link them to us??

    Et cetera. I do not think it’s any service to children to offer them the kind of writing that was being done in the 50s and 60s. That’s mythology. I adore Kathleen Krulls anthologies, and these newer bios are terrific too. Let’s “humanize” these “heroes” by showing them warts and all. Not by making them smooth and swell and inevitably on a path toward progress. Horatio Alger’s version of Lincoln has held on too long in this society. It was a lie.

    OK — Hit me with your best stuff!

  18. >Yikes! In response to KT…So this is what the Landmark series plans to offer? Outdated science from space exploration? FBI circa 1954?

    I had no idea this is what they had in mind when wishing to re-issue historical and scientific nonfiction books!

    It’s one thing to be an older well-written book. It’s another entirely different thing to be outdated and riddled with information which is neither suitable nor accurate for current times.

    The KT post, if it is indeed what is meant by the Landmark re-issues, definitely changes my mind on their usefulness.

    Nonfiction is strongly needed…but accuracy by all scientific and historical standards is an absolute must.

  19. Anonymous says:

    >Andy,
    You are absolutely right about what we should be looking for in good non-fiction. And all the librarians I know would agree with you 100%. We also like indexes and bibliographies/source notes, as Roger indicated, things which the old non-fiction sorely lacked.
    Marian

  20. Andy Laties says:

    >Thanks.

    Again, the correct reporting method for this Boston Globe story would have been to bypass my old friend Peggy Hogan’s BRILLIANT p.r. campaign explanation about how “these are such fine old books; boys don’t read non-fiction; blah blah blah. Instead the reporter should have focused on the business angle. This excellent article, excerpted below, explains the B&N in-house publishing strategy (executed in part through their Sterling subsidiary). It’s now 5 years since this article was published, and just last year Barron’s reported that B&N has indeed reached their strategic goal of having 10% of all books sold through B&N stores be B&N-published books. Truly terrifying news for all “real” publishers.

    “Barnes & Noble Flexing Publishing Muscle”
    http://www.thestreet.com/markets/kristenfrench/10009418.html

    “Barnes & Noble doesn’t plan to compete for high-priced talent in the first-run book market, where big bonuses crimp margins and have caused profits to dry up in recent years. Instead, it will focus on the low-cost, high-margin areas of publishing where it currently operates, including reprints of classics, and “lifestyle” and coffee-table books. Most of the books Barnes & Noble publishes are already in the public domain, which means that copyright protection has expired and the cost of publishing rights are low or nonexistent.”

    “They’ve been going increasingly in that direction,” said Donald Trott, an analyst with Jefferies & Co. “It’s a great profit opportunity.”

    “Publishing its own books will give Barnes & Noble some exclusive product that other retailers, such as Borders, don’t have. Borders used to have a publishing arm but left the business and has no plans to return. Analysts said Borders got out partly for reasons of geography — it’s based in Michigan, far from the publishing epicenter of New York — and partly because it lacks Barnes & Noble’s scale.”

    “The whole idea behind a bookstore publishing books is that it can control both ends of distribution, and the more scale the better. The company can place its own titles in strategically favorable locations, while relegating competing titles to out-of-the-way shelves, or refusing to buy them at all.”

    “Barnes & Noble probably doesn’t intend for the publishing business to become another big leg of its operation, analysts said, but it will no doubt steal some sales from its suppliers. “The publishers, let’s make no mistake about it, are not happy. But there’s nothing they can do about it,” said Milliot. “If [Barnes & Noble] increases its publishing sales, other titles are going to lose shelf space to Barnes and Nobles.” Major publishing houses Random House, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins declined to comment on the record for this article.”

  21. Andy Laties says:

    >I’ll post only one more time on this subject. It’s ROGER’S FAULT since he waved the B&N flag instead of my face in the first place!

    This is a footnote from my book “Rebel Bookseller” in which I describe the serious impact on authors’ royalties that this expanded B&N publishing program is having. (To wit: Peggy Hogan and her partner COULD have started a real publishing house, doing NEW titles; they CHOSE to enter this “reprint” side of the children’s book market with non-original books. My contention is that market forces played a deciding role (B&N distribution muscle: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!). So these talented former Houghton Mifflin people have now stopped being of service to contemporary authors).

    Now the theoretical explanation:

    Barnes & Noble’s massive displacement of books that pay royalties with B&N-published royalty-free titles is putting the entire royalty system in jeopardy: embattled trade book publishers are implicitly challenged to match Barnes & Noble’s pared cost structure. But it is the royalty system that permits authors to risk writing what they choose: authors sacrifice pre-sent income, and aspire to future royalties. Economist Jacques Attali (through the lens of music composition): “A strange situation: a category of workers has…succeeded in preserving ownership of their labor….If the remuneration of the molder [i.e. composer or author] is proportional to the number of sales, and not to the duration of his labor, then he can collect a rent and reduce the capitalist’s profit. This is why it is in the in-terests of the capitalist process to [instead] incorporate molders as wage earners…the specific remuneration of the composer has largely blocked the control of music by capital [Attali’s italics]; it has pro-tected creativity and even today allows the relations of power between musicians [i.e. creators] and financiers to be reversed. This becomes the essential question: is music [authorship] an exception, or is it the herald of the reappropriation by all crea-tors of their valorized labor? The spoils is capital. The outcome is uncertain.”—Jacques Attali, Noise, Translated by Brian Mas-sumi ([1977] Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1985): 40-41.

  22. Anonymous says:

    >we should all be grateful for the rational explanations of Laties. nice to have some sanity in this longwinded discourse. but why would anyone have expected creative publishing from a promotion person (Hogan) and a businessman? they are marketers, repackaging formulaic material

  23. >I am curious. Which imprints are royalty free?

  24. Andy Laties says:

    >Well Peggy Hogan for instance for many years worked under the brilliant editor Walter Lorraine at Houghton Mifflin (he edits David Macaulay and Chris Van Allsburg…). Peggy is quality, and she knows quality.

    As to which imprints are royalty free, I invite you (I hereby authorize you) to visit your local Barnes & Noble. (You are not to spend any money there, however. Ahem.) Visit the bookcases at the front first, with all the discount books. Pay attention to the books that have the B&N imprint itself on the spine. Now, turn to the copyright page of such a book and you will see that most were actually originally published about ten or more years ago, often by a British publishing company. These books have been acquired for republication in the U.S. market under B&N’s in-house imprint. A flat fee was paid. No royalty per copy will be paid to the author. OK. Now, continue to browse this front part of the store, and these discounted (so-called discounted) books and you’ll see a number of other “imprints” such as “Gramercy”. This is ALSO really just B&N in-house publishing. They have something like eight different names they publish under. Like — those leatherette-bound “classics”. No royalties to pay on the Constance Garnett-translated Tolstoy and Dostoyevesky titles that appeared in 1890s. No royalty to pay on Homer as translated by Alexander Pope. How about those big coffee-table books filled with pictures of military machinery? Those are “production remainders” — again, they’re paying the printing cost and that’s all.

    Now head back into the store and scan the bookshelves and you’ll see a lot of the spines of the books have “Sterling” or “Gramercy” on them — these are “full-price” books, in the non-fiction sections for adults especially — the new age section, the religion section, the diet book section, the self-help section. Many of these books are ALSO flat-fee, non-royalty paying books. Some B&N books ARE done under royalty agreements however — you can’t tell the nature of the contract from staring at the copyright page, of course. But in many cases you can learn a lot. A book that was our of print for a number of years almost assuredly had its reprint rights acquired on a flat-fee basis.

    Here’s a fun quote from 1980s junk-bond king Michael Milken that reveals the creator the modern day B&N chain, Len Riggio, boasting about this kind of publishing/bookselling:

    “Despite the dispute with Drexel, Riggio and Milken became friends. “I went into Barnes & Noble one day, and a big, beautiful multicolored dictionary was on sale for about $19.95 — about 30 percent of what ones like it were being sold for in other bookstores,” Milken recalls. “Riggio told me that it only cost him about $3 to print it under his own Barnes & Noble imprint, and I concluded he knew more about marketing books than anyone I ever met.”

    http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/bizfinance/biz/features/47/index5.html

    Now — I am not saying there is anything WRONG with this from the legal standpoint. It’s just that as people who operate from other positions in the industry — authors, critics, indie booksellers, publishers — we need to understand that it is NOT in our own interests, and so we should oppose it. Of course B&N will do it. We need to fight it. Because flat-fee publishing, royalty-free publishing essentially denies authors the money they could be earning if their books were sold in a royalty-paying commercial environment. Where is such an environment. Well — for instance, how about BORDERS?? (You thought I was going to say ‘how about indie bookstores’. Gotcha. Yes, of course them I do prefer.) At least Borders isn’t pushing royalty-paying books off of their shelves and cramming non-royalty-paying books onto the shelves in their place.

    (Hmmm. Did I say something about how I wasn’t going to post on this topic again. Sorry….)

  25. >Thanks much for the answer. You have a wealth of info!

    For what it is worth, I can share that my own recent experience with the Sterling Children’s Book department as author/ illustrator has been as positive and professional an experience as any that I have had with other trade houses. They have been nothing but stellar to deal with and the contract terms were excellent–including royalties on a par with any other publisher.

    I hope that info may be encouraging.

  26. rindawriter says:

    >Somethign is definitely wonkers with my local main library branch here in Bremerton…they have all these Tom Swifts lining one long shelf…but the young boys, I fear, are all over at the computer stations or in the graphic novels section or in the DVD section…or not reading in the library at all.
    They read, certainly, but things they like…which aren’t always what librarians pick out for them.

    I certainly never saw a Tom Swift in the children’s section at my dearly beloved old library, the Seattle Public Library…

  27. Andy Laties says:

    >Yes Barjn, Sterling itself was an independent house until about 5 years ago — it was a completely independent publishing company before B&N bought it, and it had a real editorial staff that originated new books, and it still does new books now, and pays royalties. That’s what B&N was buying when it bought Sterling: a real publishing company. I don’t know if these reprinted Landmark books, to be published under Sterling’s imprint, will be royalty-based or not. Perhaps they will be! But I think it’s quite conceivable that this reprint program points to a future in which more Sterling books will fee-based reprints that don’t pay royalties. I do not know. The Boston Globe doesn’t say how the deals are structured.

    A huge number of B&N books aren’t royalty based however.

    Let me ask you this question: Don’t you think that it’s GREAT for you that you as a Sterling author are GUARANTEED that your books will appear in Barnes & Noble?

    And — when ya think about it — don’t you think it’s funny and kind of weird that you DON’T have to worry about the competition from the rest of the marketplace?

    You are in like slim. Sterling is a very good place for you to be. You are smart. Everyone should want to do deals that get them guaranteed access to the bookstore company that has control of a huge chunk of the market.

    Am I being sarcastic? No. It’s brutal out there. I think it’s very tough to find a publishing company, and it’s tough once your book is published to get it into bookstores. Sterling is the publishing company that can guarantee access to bookstore shelves nationwide. Authors take note: barbjn’s books are placed VERY intelligently.

    But I’m on the other side from you. I’ve staked out this territory. I’m NOT happy that you’re happy. I wish Sterling were treating you badly. It doesn’t please me that you’re happy as a clam.

    I used to buy books from Sterling. When B&N purchased them, I stopped. I buy nothing from Sterling if I can help it. I was surprised to see that Terri Schmitz was quoted in the Globe article as saying she’d carry the Landmark reprints. Many indie booksellers will not buy from Sterling, on principle. These are the B&N published books available to the entire trade, and much of the indie trade won’t give their money to B&N. I am in a battle with B&N. I believe in this battle. I feel that it’s a culture war. I think you’re on the wrong side.

    I want your books to have to COMPETE for access to the shelves of the biggest bookstore company in America. I don’t want you or any author to have an inside track.

    See?

    Complicated. But — straightforward, too.

  28. >If truth be known, I think my book will have to compete harder because of the prejudice that people have against B and N. You have already decided to not buy it based on that alone, without knowing a thing about it. Tell me:How much worse can it get than that?– a judgement based on guilt by association, independent of content, or inherent value. Ouch! Do I jump off the bridge now, or later?

    In the end so much of this passion I-we- have has come to be tainted by the almighty dollar. I know that first hand. Wouldn’t it be more righteous to refuse to buy books from a company that pays Madonna 7 figure advances?

    I am being totally honest when I say that working with Sterling has been lovely–it’s given me a glimpse of what it must have been like when publishing was considered a “gentleman’s business.”

  29. Andy Laties says:

    >Sterling is the “gentleman” here?? Well, Mephistopheles dresses real nice, too.

    Here’s the best quantitative review of what it is that Barnes & Noble has done to our industry and to book culture in this country.

    “Independent Bookselling and True Market Expansion”
    http://www.bookweb.org/news/btw/1932.html

    As to the whether you’ll have to compete harder: in the rest of the distribution channels, yup. Borders will not buy much from Sterling. Indies will not buy much from Sterling. But since B&N controls about 25% of the market, I’d say you’ve got nothing to complain about.

    As to the “merit” of your book: I’m not making a value judgment. I already told you, I don’t care if the book is brilliant. I’ll only carry it if I must. Funnily enough, just two days ago I placed a rush order with Sterling for a title that a local author informed me she wanted to see here at the Eric Carle Museum, since she’ll be attending an educational conference here, and she thinks the other conferees will buy her book. That’s an “if I must” situation. I have nothing against the author, or against any book. Since I carry approximately 2% of all children’s titles currently in print (I believe there are 500,000 in print now?), I’m always open to reasons not to carry a book. And similarly, I’m always looking for reasons TO carry a book. Last fall Simmons prof Susan Bloom included a Sterling book on her short-list of books she thought might win the Caldecott and I bought ten copies of the book from a distributor. I’ve got nothing against any book. I make every effort to avoid buying from Sterling though. Yes, you’ve made in my opinion a deal with the devil. There are benefits, and costs. This problem with me not liking the devil is one of your costs.

    As to Penguin paying a bid advance to Madonna: I absolutely agree with you. This is a symptom of OTHER problems with our industry. Should I boycott the major conglomerates who control the publishing business? I did help found a political bookstore/cafe/performance space in Brooklyn that buys heavily from small presses and that also publishes (Vox Pop: http://www.voxpopnet.net — the company that publishes my book. My partner is Sander Hicks, the founder, previously, of Soft Skull Press.) I do encourage other booksellers to stress the independent publishing side of the business, and to support the indie press. But as long as the big conglomerate publishing companies adhere to the antitrust laws — which the American Booksellers Association is vigilantly active in legal oversight to ensure that these publishers do — I don’t have a problem buying from these biggies. I believe that they’re intent is to encourage the growth of the book trade in the aggregate.

    However, to the contrary, I observed the growth of Barnes & Noble firsthand, and no matter how many times you hear their oft repeated P.R. statement “Every new bookstore is a cause for celebration!” I heard enough specific anecdotes, watched enough specific actions, to understand that they are a predetory and imperialistic company that engaged in a strategy that IF IT WAS TRULY DESIGNED so as to grow the book market, was then very poorly implemented. If Barnes & Noble did not INTEND to kill 3500 indie bookstores in the 90s, there are LOTS of ways they could have forestalled this outcome. (How about creating a non-profit Community Development Finance Institution and ceding control of it to an independent body — this could then have helped recapitalize indie bookstores that had been damaged during their big rollout?)

    I know that the top people at B&N were appalled that so many indie bookstores collapsed all at once. These individuals are very defensive. They think that me and my friends were weaklings and wimps and that we didn’t fight back hard enough. That’s what they themselves have told me personally!! (several longtime top people at B&N) My answer to them is to point them to the article I cited above. What happened to our industry was a very real danger when they launched their big expansion push. They acted blindly and foolishly, and they hurt our culture. Penguin — the ABA sued them, and sued them again, and we got them acting properly, in general, in a manner that they ought, by law. Barnes & Noble’s expansion has also been hobbled somewhat, thank goodness (more by Amazon and Wal-Mart competition than by any ABA lawsuits.).

    You published your book with them. I wish you’d published with Penguin. But you have a career ahead of you, and you’ll have many other times to make this decision. I’m glad you’re engaging in this conversation with me. These are very challenging judgments to make. I think they’re moral issues. If you come to this museum to present, or if your book wins a major award, or if some presenter here tells me they’re going to present your book, I will certainly stock all of your books here. I also buy ONLY non-returnable and so your books will stay here until they sell out (usually buy in tens). If they sell out quickly, I will reorder.

    Tell me your name, and tell me the titles of your books. You’ve made a positive impression on me. I’d like to read your books. I bet they’re good.

  30. >Andy, I am a small player in this industry. Just another struggling author/ilustrator. Children’s books are a passion for me and somethng I obsess about every waking minute that I am not doing other things that need doing. And even then, too, which sometimes gets me into trouble.

    Since I don’t want to use Roger’s blog for promotion for myself, I’ll do a little research, find an email address for you, and send you info about my own journey and my own books.

    But I have enjoyed this conversation very much. Thanks so much for the give and take!

  31. Anonymous says:

    >this whole discussion could have been cut short if we had remembered the original exchange in Warburg’s book. Friend to Fred’s mother: “Tell me, Mrs. Warburg, is publishing an occupation for gentleman or is it trade?” Of course the answer is TRADE and we should all acknowledge that.

  32. Andy Laties says:

    >barbjn –

    Thank you, too. I hope you can see that I honestly respect all the players in our field. I got my first bookselling job in a chainstore, in 1979. Over the years, everyone I met who has stayed in the industry has been on every side of every fence! (I swear to you that I honestly never thought I myself would write a book — I still cannot consider myself an author. I’m in awe of authors which means I’m in awe of you. All I could produce was a rather polemical memoir, and that only under duress.)

    And as far as Warburg’s memoir goes, I’d also point to another icon of the documentation of British publishing, Frank Mumby, whose marvelous history recounts several eras when there was a “Battle of the Books” or a “Book War” going on. It’s healthy. Who would want to see our field controlled by a single powerful player? Let the battle rage!

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