Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Spillane and misogyny

From: Al Guthrie (
Date: 12 Jul 2006

I wasn't talking about initial publication either, Jim. I was thinking of books that go out of print and are then reintroduced. That would include twentieth century classics like Umberto Eco's FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM, Max Frisch's HOMO FABER and Hermann Hesse's THE GLASS BEAD GAME, all of which were out of print in the UK during periods when I used to work in a bookstore. So was Eric Ambler's entire work. For a long time.

I'd also suggest that 'the public decides what gets bought' is only true on a technicality. The public cannot buy what is not available for purchase. I know many cases where initial print runs of books have sold out but the publisher hasn't reprinted.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: jimdohertyjr
  Sent: Wednesday, July 12, 2006 5:21 PM
  Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: Spillane and misogyny


  Re your comment below:

> My problem with this argument, Miker, is that the vox populi
  doesn't determine what gets published. Editors do. And they don't
  take votes. So I fail to see how that's democratic.

  Yeah, but, as I understood Miker, he was talking about the specific
  case of "standing the test of time," not initial publication.

  Editors decide what gets published, but the public decides what gets
  bought. The SUCCESS of a given book, as opposed to the decision on
  whether or not to publish it in the first place, is driven by public

  YOu can argue, and I wouldn't deny, that the publishers can affect
  the success of a book by deciding which work should get the
  marketing dollars, which the publicity push, etc. But that's like
  saying that democratic elections can be affected by a good
  campaign. It doesn't alter the fact that the ultimate decision is
  in the hands of the voters (or, in the case of publishing books

  And if the public decides to continue buying, and reading, and
  talking about, and writing about, a given writer's work over a long
  period of time, that's generally understood to be "standing the test
  of time."

  Leaving aside the question of whether or not "standing the test of
  time" is a valid measure of whether a given piece of literature, or
  a given writer, is or is not worthwhile, it IS a reflection of
  public opinion over the passage of years.

  That was my understading, at least, of what Miker meant
  by "democratic."



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