If you're looking for a blog that will keep you up to date with the big publishing picture without inundating you with an excess of posts, may I recommend Holt Uncensored, penned by the seemingly indomitable publishing insider and independent bookstore advocate Pat Holt. While many blogs deliver regular snack-sized posts that rarely offend and can be read, and often forgotten, in a minute or two, Pat Holt saves her energies for a once a month post that is always substantial and always opinionated.
Take, for example, her latest post, "Thank You, Bankrupt Borders, for Triggering This Scene" in which she writes about the battle waged in the small Californian seaside town of Capitola in 1999 to prevent Borders from opening a bookstore, and what happened to the independent bookstores in neighboring Santa Cruz when, having been thwarted in Capitola, Borders simply moved their proposed store a few miles up the road where they employed their usual strategy of taking a loss on sales until all (or in this case, nearly all) the nearby independent bookstores ran out of money and closed.
In reference to Borders recent filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, she says:
"What astounds me is the damage [Borders] leaves behind - hundreds (maybe thousands) of dead independent bookstores across the country; shabby Borders stores remaining that are so gutted of inventory they look like thrift shops in bad times, and a customer base that is shifting again, this time not under any chain bookstore control...Heaven knows it's not easy for young booksellers to enter this modern void. And yet, here they come - not hundreds but surely dozens of smaller, leaner, tougher bookstores that know how to rebuild the browsing experience, the author event, the hand-sell, the personal relationship with every iPhone-carrying customer. These owners know how much we need that bookstore experience, despite and because of our addiction to the screen. So goodbye, Borders! You big meanie. You big, arrogant, irresponsible mess of a bookstore chain! And welcome back independents, one by one by one."
Last month she directed her searing pen at writer Nick Bilton who described in a New York Times article how he and his wife had sat cross-legged on the floor of a bookstore with large piles of books which they "lobbed back and forth...for a couple of hours," photographing pages of interests with their phones, while researching "ideas for a new home we are planning to buy". Bilton then asks "Did we do anything wrong?"
To which Pat Holt replies,
"Isn't that nice. Whenever you need a library, just go to a bookstore, Bilton suggests. There you can turn new books into used books for all the customers to follow...I have never heard of such self-absorbed rudeness or flat-out idiocy in a bookstore and was further incensed when the article revealed that Nick Bilton is the lead technology writer for the Times and author of a book about the future of iPhones, for heaven's sake."
Although Holt's posts are always passionate and always opinionated, they are not by any means always angry. For example, back in October she cheerleaded for two soon to be published books - Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso. The former is already a big bestseller having published late last year, while the latter published this week and, with its combination of excellent literary writing and extremely controversial subject matter, is destined to be one of the talked about books of the year.
You'll find Holt Uncensored at www.holtuncensored.com