I guess much of the rest of the population—at least that portion that's under the age of, say, 12—ask for their wishes to be fulfilled on those famous gift-giving occasions that occur in mid- to late December.
Me, I know that things—especially things in publishing—sometimes take time. Besides, what I'm thinking about aren't gifts you can give, exactly, and they're not resolutions, either. Instead, herewith, are five hopes I have for publishing in 2007.
Even more creative ideas. It was pretty smart to publish The 9/11 Reportin graphic adaptation—and to publish the Iraq Study Group Reportat all. Melville House's release of great, short works of literature from the likes of say, Dostoyevski, was interesting, too. As houses (and bottom-line demands) get bigger, some of the smaller, smarter ideas can get lost. They're worth finding.More (but better) film adaptations. While bestseller lists prove that even a lousy movie (Memoirs of a Geisha, The Good German) put their far better book versions back into readers' hands, a good adaptation—have you seen Notes on a Scandalyet?—does more than that. It rewards writers, for one thing, and proves, yet again, that books fuel the entertainment business, not, as it sometimes seems, the other way around.Fewer casualties in the bookseller "wars." 2006 saw the demise of several prominent indie booksellers—Coliseum Books in Manhattan, A Clean Well-Lighted Place in San Francisco, the Dutton's in Beverly Hills, to name but a beloved few—while Borders plotted a resurgence with its new boss, George Jones. Of course, the big-box stores continue to be big players—at least for the big books and houses. And then there was Starbucks, the coffee chain whose new approach to bookselling has struck terror in the hearts of some old-fashioned book folk. Is there simply no good news possible here? Let's hope that the fighting spirit of people like Russ Lawrence (see p. 20) can bolster the health and prospects of book-loving booksellers everywhere.Easy on the mega-advances. As Judith Levine did in the Free Press memoir, Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping, publishing might go on a spending diet. No more half-mil advances to short story writers, no more mega millions to sophomore efforts. As for the failed or failing politician who finally, suddenly, wants to tell all... take a page from a former first lady and "just say no." Or say $100K instead of $3 mil.No more publishing scandals. No more "fake" memoirs, no more plagiarism, no more attempts to publish nonbooks by nonwriter criminals just out for many bucks. An impossible dream? Maybe—and probably not one likely to come true, anyway. As long as there has been storytelling, and point of view, there have been arguments about same. The difference now, in an age of insta-coverage, is that such scandals make news.
On the other hand, maybe we shouldn't even hope for the impossible: publishing gaffes do give us something to beat our breasts about, something to debate. They also prove that, despite rumors to the contrary, books do still matter, and more creatively published and marketed, the better.
And that, after all, is what we should continue to hope for in this, and every other, new year.
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