Friday, June 17, 2005

Answered: More Readers' Comments

Over the past few months I've been inundated with questions and comments about the blog, book publishing, and other products and services related to the things I discuss here. I'd like to respond to everyone because that's part of what makes this "interactive" medium so useful, but unfortunately I can't address everything that comes my way. That said, here are a few things that have come up recently that are worth mentioning...

I received a nice note from Mitchell Silverman who wrote to tell me about a book-trading website he just launched called Bookins. He described it as such:

It is an automated system that finds good homes for members' used-books, while getting them titles they want in exchange. Membership is free, and it's easy to use. Like Netflix (the famous DVDD-by mail website) everything is automated, and postageis providedd. But instead of getting DVDs from a warehouse, members get books of equal value from other members. They receive a much greater return on their trade-in than at used bookstores, and we are connected to the US postal service, so mailer labels print with official postage from their own printers ($3.99 to receive a book, no charge to ship them).

I don't know if Mitchell realized it or not, but I work for a very large book publisher and the idea of organized book trading doesn't exactly please people who make their living by trying to sell NEW books! Well, I'm not the kind of person who values proprietary interests over common sense, and I firmly believe that good ideas should be recognized, rewarded, and given the chance to succeed. I'm sure my bosses would scream bloody murder to hear me say it, but I like Mitchell's idea and I hope it works out. The book publishing industry could use some creative thinkers as thoughtful and resourceful as Mitchell.

I also received a very kind note from Randall Williams, editor of NewSouth Books in Montgomery, Alabama, who offered me alcohol:

It's a good thing you're in Manhattan and I'm in Montgomery, or I'd have to come over and buy you a beer or three and I'm sure neither of us has time for it no matter how much we might enjoy it. You write well, and your comments are dead-on. I reached your web columns off a link on a newsletter I read, and I'm glad I did.

Let's just state for the record that I always have time for a drink (or three) especially if you're buying - this is publishing after all. Randall was additionally kind enough to send me an article he wrote on Print-On-Demand (POD), which is a topic I plan to address here soon.

The link in the newsletter Randall mentions is (probably) Publisher's Lunch, which seems to enjoy quoting my saucier moments. This focus on the most sensational things I say is a bit disappointing. Going to such lengths to push a thought into the ether, one certainly would appreciate some thoughtful contemplation from ones colleagues rather than being reduced to juicy soundbytes. But perhaps with our limited attention spans, there is no room for that dialogue.


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