When I read the article "The Problem with POD" by Rudy Shur of Square One Publishers [Soapbox, Jan. 16], I was very disappointed. When he says that "POD is just the latest vehicle for vanity publishing by authors who are able to pay," he is mixing apples and oranges. Whether authors get paid or pay to get published is up to each publisher and has nothing to do with POD as a model. When Shur attacks nonfiction POD as just as suspect as some Internet sites, that's like blaming the Gutenberg press for the many bad books published since the 15th century. Then Shur's final argument: POD books cannot be distinguished by confused bookstores, which in turn confuse their customers by placing increasing numbers of POD books on valuable retail shelf space. With the exception of a very small number of deals, the overwhelming majority of POD books do not enter a bookstore, let alone compete meaningfully with traditional titles.
Independent publishers, indeed traditional publishing as a whole, are facing many threats, among them the chains and increased competition from other media. It makes more sense to address those fundamental threats than the perceived problem of POD. However, even better would it be to embrace aspects of POD as a gateway to the future of publishing: a future no longer based on scarcity of resources but on an abundance of possibilities such as flexibility in print runs, reaching readers nationwide and even worldwide through online bookstores, as well as the incredible opportunity of extending the lifetime of backlist titles.
ALEXANDER M. DAKE
FOUNDER PUBLISHER, COSIMO INC.
NEW YORK, N.Y.
Ellen Garrison gets an important fact wrong in her Soapbox piece "Give Me Some Credit" [Jan. 30 ]. Maxwell Perkins deserves credit for a great many things, but editing William Faulkner wasn't one of them. He never laid a pencil on him. Faulkner's primary editors were Saxe Commins, at Liveright and then at Random House, and after him Albert Erskine. And it was Malcolm Cowley, literary adviser to the Viking Press, who rescued Faulkner's work from near-oblivion with his Portable Faulkner. Credit where credit is due.
EXECUTIVE EDITOR AT LARGE
Jill Kramer's Soapbox ("Dear Doofus") in the January 9 PW is perfectly true, hilarious and hopefully educational to the job-search population at large. From one who knows, this article should have ultra-wide circulation. Thanks so much for "nailing it."
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