Write faster!


I’ve encountered people — probably you have as well — who revel in the number of “friends” they have on Facebook. Five hundred? Barely worth noting. A thousand? Still a modest haul.

How many such friends are actually known beyond a Facebook screen? Well, how many friends — in the old-fashioned sense of that word — do you have? Can an average person keep track of?

What I’m getting at — as old men do, slowly and deliberately — is that we have evolved from hunter-gatherers into collector-flaunters. Books, like wine or cigars or violins, can be gathered and appreciated for their ostensible function… or they can be gathered and appreciated for the simple fact of owning them. Now that books are so accessible and cheap — ninety-nine cents at Amazon or B&N, free at Project Gutenberg — anyone can amass a huge collection, to read or to brag about. Think how many you can store and read on what some poor technophobes think is simply a telephone.

Does a market for books — call it even a demand — translate into a society of readers, or into a society of collectors-of-stuff?

Or, back to your reference, do such novelists write reading material, or do they produce Kindle-stuffers? At the purely mercantile level, where many of us (try to) fuction, the distinction may be unimportant.



I hope and fear equally that collecting-flaunting/Kindle-stuffing will help save writers and writing from the threats of price-cutting, digital piracy, publisher-squeezing, possibly fickle or flawed popular taste and general commoditisation of the book.

Hugh –

On topic, but from a slightly different angle – perhaps you’ve already seen it – a Literary Review piece on the range of things which can be done, have been done, with books.



Loved the image of Miss Clack dropping evangelical tracts like Holy Hand Grenades.

Some years ago a friend wrote a nice memoir of a few years spent working with the Forest Service as a fire fighter and fire watcher in the American Southwest. It debuted to a few nice reviews, and then it disappeared, in the way books have a way of disappearing when the publisher/owner’s wife finds the publisher/owner in close collaboration with the marketing director, and they must flee. With no further publicity, no review copy requests fulfilled, no orders fulfilled, no There, There, when the phone rang, my friend’s book went dead in the water. A few years later, he bought back from the publisher/owner’s ex-wife, and sole asset repository, the entire print run, minus the 40 review copies the marketing director had managed to disburse amidst her close collaborations. He tried peddling them himself, but lacked the aggressive garrulity of a proper marketeer. A few years ago I asked whatever happened to his books, and he said “I insulated the garage with them.”

On the other hand, Ed Abbey made a bundle on that genre in the late 60s.

Your friend should re-issue the book in a Kindle version, just to keep it alive.