Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hello, book lovers! I know I'm a pain, but maybe the following post will goad you into action!!!
A few weeks ago I ranted about wasting time reading romance novels. My feelings about their uselessness (not because I'm against fantasy, but because they are retro fantasy like soap operas and cause men to look on females with even more disdain). This time I'm off on another book genre that both men AND women take as gospel. Self-Help. I prefer to call it Self-Delusion. Even the most clueless shouldn't take more than six months to discover that Deepak Chopra and Mitch Albom might peddle feel-good heaven but, in life, as in love, too many outside forces intrude to allow for a guaranteed real-life happy ending. My solution : read something entertaining but not witless. Read a book with a few ideas that raise either your IQ or your awareness of life. For example, do you have aspirations for your kids? Try All Loves Excelling, a title by Si Bunting, that Bridge Works published a few years ago. Bunting had written previously about his career in the Army that found him amid the horror called Viet Nam. Subsequently though, he became the head of a couple of private schools. All Loves Excelling was a heartbreaking tale of a perfectly normal, smart adolescent whose parents, with unreal expectations of their daughter's abilities to make it into an Ivy League college, tried to force the square-pegged girl into a painful round hole. Result: mortal damage. The school, by the way, was implicit in the affair. Not all kids are meant for Harvard, no matter how bright. Bunting's story goes down easy, reads beautifully, but contains a moral that every parent should take to heart.

(Above, picture of a smart and sensible adolescent whose parents are also sensible about schools and colleges.)
Take my point. I am not of the belief that no one went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. So, women, lead the way. You read more books than men. Try a different path from Oprah's path. That will make all the difference. Please comment at Thanks. Barbara Phillips

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The June 8, 2009 Publishers Weekly, the bible of the book industry, featured an article in its Soapbox column by an anonymous independent bookseller. This Mr. or Ms. Anonymous took authors to task in the snarkiest way for their supposed sins against this particular bookseller. Like: "do not call or stop by more than once a week to inquire about your book" and "do not ask us to recommend your book to book groups", etc., etc.

I have some info for this dissing bookseller. The book industry is in trouble, But it will not die. It will simply increase its sales ONLINE, causing more and more bookstores to close. Fact: Barnes and Noble, the predominant book retailer, recently reported that the most important reason its net sales were down for the first quarter of this year was "...a significant decline in traffic to retail locations." With the purchase of Kindle, an e-book, a reader can download almost any book available for $9.99 from Amazon, the online book retailer, which sells Kindle. That's at least $15 less than the retail price of a cloth book, as well as about $5.00 less than Amazon's regular discounted price for cloth books.
And yet the person who wrote the PW piece is egregiously giving authors hell for their mistreatment of this earthbound bookseller. My opinion: Do not whine publicly, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous. Instead, do EVERYTHING you can to sell books, even if that means occasionally putting up with overly aggressive authors (or publishers). Otherwise, you'll soon be selling ties...

Are you reading me, Indie publishers, authors, booksellers? Or anyone else who is interested in books and thinks about the future? Comment at I want to know what you think.