Sunday, April 30, 2006

On Books: Why some fail
By Scott Eyman

Palm Beach Post Books Editor

Sunday, April 30, 2006

I thought I'd share a hilarious story that ran in the London Guardian. Basically, a reporter went around asking various publishers about books they published last year that for one reason or other lay down and died.

A common reason was a lack of reviews, for publishing is a review-driven business.

Frankly, some of the books struck me as extreme long shots under any circumstances. One, titled London Born, was dictated by an author who was illiterate. "We had great hopes for this," said the publisher, "but sold only 1,200 copies. I don't know why it didn't work."

Then there was the publisher of Profile books, who bewailed the demise of Rich Cohen's The Record Men, about Chess Records. "It did nothing, selling just under 2,000 copies."


"We did a crap job."

Finally, a publisher who tells the truth.

Natasha and Pierre...

Say this for Tolstoy: He had confidence in his powers.

Viking's new translation of War and Peace by Anthony Briggs seems to get to the considerably elaborated point a little faster than previous translations — I've only made it all the way through the Rosemary Edmonds translation, which dates from the 1950s. Viking has packaged the book in attractive hard covers, and included some scholarly apparati in the back of the book: a note from the translator, notes on the battles dramatized in the book, an afterword by Orlando Figes and some textual notes, as well.

There is also a listing of summaries of the chapters that reads like something Woody Allen might have written for The New Yorker. Volume III, Chapter 16: "Natasha's illness. The absurd and expensive ministrations of doctors.

"Chapter 17. Natasha and Pierre. She takes communion. A slight improvement."

Quote Unquote...

"What obsesses a writer starting out on a lifetime's work is the panic-stricken search for a voice of his own."

— John Mortimer

On Books: Why some fail

No comments:

Search This Blog