Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Fuck Books

Here are the leads from recent stories at

Another Indie Bookstore Gives Up The Ghost. Bound To Be Read, a large-scale independent bookseller operating stores in Albuquerque and the Twin Cities has announced that it will close its doors within a few months. The Albuquerque store had been open for fifteen years, the St. Paul outlet for five. Minneapolis Star Tribune 04/28/05

Australian Book Chain Goes Bankrupt. Collins Booksellers, Australia's third largest book chain, has declared bankruptcy and owes $7.5 million. The Australian 04/27/05

Harper Collins Sees a Down Year. Publisher Harper Collins reports a 30 percent drop in profits. The Guardian (UK) 04/24/05

Against Good Books. Today's corporate weather-makers hate "book-lovers", as they sneeringly refer to them. They despise curious readers committed to the range and quality of what they buy, such as those who bother with books coverage in intelligent magazines or newspapers. Instead, extra resources will now go into snaring the fitful attention of affluent but apathetic semi-readers who, deep down, believe that, in the deathless words of Philip Larkin's "A Study of Reading Habits", "Books are a load of crap." Ah, but those non-readers made an exception for The Da Vinci Code. So let's have much more of the same brain-shrinking junk. The Independent (UK) 04/22/05

The Literary No-Man's Land. A profile of author Steve Stern. “Mr. Stern, 58, has been publishing short stories and novels for almost a quarter century. He has received critical praise in the places that matter, won his share of prizes and is devoted to his work. Robert Weil, the executive editor of W. W. Norton, considers the situation to be even more dire. ‘If you speak to publishers about the sales of literary fiction - I mean we're in real trouble in this country,' he said. Sales are shocking these days, even compared to 10 years ago. And publishers are seriously cutting back.’" The New York Times 04/25/05

Five or six years ago, when we visited the Old Town section of Pasadena, there was a lovely Rizzoli's bookstore across from the Indian restaurant we'd just eaten at. It failed soon thereafter. Patagonia, an upscale boutique, took its place and has thrived for several years. Akbar,the restaurant, was packed when we ate there in April. The owner started with the Pasadena location and has since opened several more around the city.

If a book sells a million copies, which makes it that rare bestseller, it still means that only a third of a percent of Americans read it. Most books sell only a few thousand copies before being remaindered.

Books are so marginal in our society that they don't even exist for all but a tiny fraction of the populace. Ray Bradbury got it wrong in Fahrenheit 451. You don't need a government program to suppress books. They've already become irrelevant to people's lives.

Why keep beating your balls off to try and get published? Charles Beaumont once commented about writing for television. He said it's like climbing a mountain of manure to pluck a single rose from the top. But by the time you've gotten the rose, you've lost your sense of smell.


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