The perfect teenage book should feel like it’s being passed around secretly, its message too raw and powerful for adults to understand. It should inspire highlighting and ponderous margin notes that embarrass you 20 years later. Most of all, it should feel like it’s speaking directly to you, and only you, even if everyone else in your class is working on the same essay question.
two words: the. internet.
Writers’ incomes have fallen significantly over the past decade, down from an average of $23,000 to just $11,000 by 2011, and so prizes can be a very important source of income for them.
DOWN from 23k. The good ‘ol days kinda sucked.
With the advent of the superauthors, another reason for bigness arose: the need to be able to guarantee large sums of money to authors. This was about the time that I got into the business, and I remember it well. The proximate cause of the rise of these highly paid authors was the ubiquity and low cost of photocopying machines, which made it possible for literary agents to submit manuscripts to multiple publishers at the same time.
Copiers, man. Copiers.
A book is really like a lover. It arranges itself in your life in a way that is beautiful. Even as a kid, my sister, who was the eldest, brought books home for me, and I think I spent more time sniffing and touching them than reading. I just remember the joy of the book; the beauty of the binding. The smelling of the interior. Happy.
I don’t agree with these romantic paeans to print, but I am sort of glad they exist.