Critical Linking: April 19, 2012


E-book production “costs 10% less” than print book production, said Molly Barton, Penguin’s global digital director. Hardly the vast savings that many consumers imagine. “But the largest expense is author payment and always has been.”

I guess the real savings would be if you just didn’t have to worry about print book production at all. One production line always saves money. Some car guy from Michigan taught us that.


My solution thus far has been to pretend the year is 1987. That there is no such thing as an ironic mustache, a Seg-Way, a Blackberry, an iPhone, or Youtube. To try in photos and poems to catch those increasingly rare moments when we stop being shopping jibba-jabba machines and allow ourselves to be human.

I always forget how thoughtful and humane the 1980s were. And how easy it was to share your pictures and words with the entire world at virtually no cost.


Well, the bad news is that the covers that attract female readers in their teens and 20s are problematic because they reinforce a beauty ideal few can ever attain. And while YA book bloggers create an amazing, liberatory space to discuss their ideas about writing and literature, this same space is also marked by the restrictions of our culture. The good news is that book bloggers’ fetishistic love of covers that romanticize young women doesn’t mean that these same bloggers aren’t willing to think hard about the content of the books they read.

Maybe we are better off with no covers after all.


“Swamplandia!” has already sold more than 200,000 copies in hardcover, paperback and e-book editions and has gone back to press 12 times. Vintage, a division of Knopf, will print more copies this week, adding a seal on the front cover noting that the book was a Pulitzer finalist.

Wow…that’s pretty good for Swamplandia! already, isn’t it? I really wish we could know these numbers more consistently.


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