As the effects of Hurricane Katrina began to be assessed, word of bookstores destroyed and authors' lives being disrupted started to filter in. Fortunately, there appeared to be no loss of life among publishing-industry members, but businesses were not so lucky, as four Borders Inc. stores are closed indefinitely and a number of indies, including Bookends Bookstore in Bay St. Louis, Miss., have been destroyed. And the New Orleans Bookfair, scheduled for Oct. 29, has been canceled.

Meanwhile, author events, such as a reading at Lemuria, in Jackson, Miss., for senator Trent Lott, have been canceled. Publicity directors, while expressing sensitivity to the victims, say they were concerned with how media appearances—and possibly sales—could be affected as they headed into the critical fall season. Parcel and mail service into the region also remained severely curtailed last week, with no timetable for when things may improve. Many publishers are forgiving money owed them by Gulf Coast stores.

The most notable publisher in the region, Pelican Books in Gretna, La., a suburb of New Orleans, sent a letter from members of its sales force. The letter said reports were of less flooding, but they couldn't be sure until an assessment this week. It asked customers to hold returns and invited them to direct orders to wholesalers.

The letter also said that, because of cell-phone disruptions, even evacuated staff members weren't in touch with one another. The letter ended with the publisher's hope that it will be back "up and running as quickly as we can" and thanked everyone for their support.

In other parts of the region the situation was slightly improved. In Jackson, the University Press of Mississippi's facilities were intact and all employees were safe, though marketing director Steve Yates noted that the city is coping with many refugees.

Executives with the Southeast Booksellers Association and Publishers Association of the South were going ahead with plans for their annual conference in North Carolina, set for Sept. 15—16. Both organizations reported that offers of help have poured into their offices.

The region, of course, is home to many writers—NY Times Magazine columnist and Random House author Rob Walker and Viking author Douglas Brinkley, both live in New Orleans; Knopf cookbook author Susan Spicer lives in Jackson; and Richard Ford has a house in Mississippi. All were thought to be safe at press time.

Anne Rice, the author most prominently attached to New Orleans, is safe in La Jolla, Calif., where she now lives, according to Knopf's Paul Bogaards. There was no word on the property Rice still owns in New Orleans, which has figured in her fiction. "She's devastated by the images coming out of New Orleans," Bogaards said. Then he added, "I'm not sure how she's going to come out of it."