Book editor speaks up from flyover territory…
March 26, 2011 § 11 Comments
Jane Hnderson writes for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the only daily in this Gateway area of 5 million people – pathetic, huh? ( I mean it’s pathetic that we only have one daily paper, not that she’s the book editor!)
Say what you will about online this and that. The Post rules around here…for now. And the young local journalists, the up and comers, have little interest in starting a “paper” newspaper.
All that aside, Henderson has what I consider to be the closest thing to a the perfect job; she reviews books. She’s been out and about, a bit, in the journalism world, but she roosts here in STL and does her book thing, occasionally showing up at a writers’ conference. (Funny how those conferences are so often about the book and publishing and NOT about the writing necessary to even GET to the book part….)
Here are a few things Henderson has to say about the book world:
“When I started as book editor it was more like 60,000 books were being published a year; now literally there are probably over a million new titles published a year,” she told the Washington University The Figure in the Carpet , newsletter,February 2011.
(hmmm….that sounds positive, for those book writers among us!)
“Self publishing and print-on-demand titles made up over 760,000 of the new titles of 2009, but more traditional presses have also been churning out more titles, with over 280,000 new titles per year among them.” (OK, OK, there are thousands of possibilities, you could say…)
Henderson keeps her readers current via her Book Blog yet interestingly finds the blog a bit…abstract, you could say. She’s not sure what a blog should be. It wasn’t part of the curricula when she was in J School. (true confession: Haven’t yet read her blog. Actually didn’t know about it ’til recently.)
While she believes the Internet does books a service, overall, in getting “press,” it may not be reliable in her opinion. Not reliable because of the anonymity of book postings…which can allow such reviews to be misleading or worse, she thinks, blatant self-promotion.
(I don’t know much about that simply because I pretty much read only book and writing bloggers who I respect for their diligence and their opinions and the info they impart.)
Henderson shares some surprising (and good) book trends. There are more independent bookstores in STL now than when she started as book editor 15 years ago! They add significantly to the city’s cultural life. (makes my heart sing!)
And we have indie publishers right here in our own backyard, including Blank Slate Press.
Honestly, I wish there was a bookworld talk show.