'An appealing, meditative collection of thoughts and observations on the book industry and the state of literature in the early 21st century. Book lovers of all stripes will enjoy this light piece of cultural criticism' -- Publishers Weekly
In So Many Books, Gabriel Zaid offers his thoughts and observations on the literary condition: a highly original analysis of the predicament that readers, authors, publishers, booksellers, librarians, and teachers find themselves in today--when there are simply more books than any of us can contemplate. In this brief collection of essays, Zaid combines the business savvy of a management consultant, the meditations of a poet, and the sense of humor of an unrepentant reader.
Complaining About Babel
ALMOST ALL BOOKS sell thousands of copies, not dozens or hundreds of thousands, let alone millions. It is said unthinkingly that this is a bad thing.
A film requires hundreds of thousands of viewers to justify the investment. What is the fate of films that could never attract such large audiences? They aren't made. As a result, the number of films produced worldwide is not even 1 percent of the number of books published. If books were to cost as much as films to produce and distribute (as some do, like encyclopedias), an audience of hundreds of thousands would be requireda Hollywood-size audience. And what would happen to the 99 percent of books that could never sell hundreds of thousands of copies? No one would publish them.
Books are so cheap that, unlike newspapers, radio, or television, they can be published advertisement-free for a few thousand interested readers. To finance almost any book, it is enough to find ...
This is a gem of a book - an absolute must read for anyone in the
publishing industry, all book lovers and most importantly, for anyone who
aspires to be a writer; and considering that according to a 2000 survey, 81%
of Americans feel they should write a book, and 6 million have written
manuscripts, that makes for a very broad potential readership - which is
ironic considering that one of Zaid's main themes is to argue that the fact
that the average book sells copies in the low thousands is a cause for
celebration, not dismay!
So Many Books is packed with lots of useful statistics about books
(not boring tables of data but those wonderful nuggets of information that are
so useful to store away for use in conversations to come!), but that's not the
key reason to read it. The real reason is to share Zaid's enlightening
and enthusiastic perspective of the world of books - all the way from Socrates (who
favored conversation over books) to the current day.
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Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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