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The usual death knell for the novel
Here’s a gotta-read to get your dander up. Click here. I’ve shut off Comments on this post so we can all build up a full head of steam. In a day or two I’ll offer a response to the Why People Stopped Reading Books post.
In the early eighties, coffee sales were in the toilet. My parents drank coffee, but my own generation wasn’t picking up the cup. As coffee drinking hovered on the verge of extinction in America, the industry launched the “Coffee Achievers” ad campaign. We were carpet bombed with these ads. Note, even Kurt Vonnegut is hawking coffee. As are football stars. Even Olympic gymnasts pushed coffee. And coffee did not die. It gives you vitality!
Around this same era my generation stopped buying books. The market consisted of only cheap pocket paperbacks or hefty, expensive hardcovers. My generation wanted neither. To save the novel market, my editor told me that publishing tried an experiment. They created the “Trade Paperback.” Nowadays when you think of a paperback, you think of an oversized one, somewhere between the quality of a pocket paperback and a hardback. The first three trade paperbacks were targeted straight at my non-buying generation and featured young, hip, struggling characters. Those books were… Bright Lights, Big City… Slaves of New York… and Less Than Zero. And in many ways they “saved” the novel by getting younger people to buy books.
Coffee is still around. Books are still around. And people predicting the death of the novel are still around. Go read Mike’s piece and be ready to discuss it soon, here.
I’m uploading the videos from Midwest Story Night. Look for them soon.
And I’ll be choosing the best ten entries in the Cringe Contest this week. Get your last-minute entries in now. My weekend is dedicated to packing the ten cases of candy and whatnot for the winners.
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