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March 17, 2010

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Great topic!

I do not believe opening the floodgates will lower the quality of the novels I read. Writers who care about quality will always have an audience and readers who care about quality will find those writers that take the time to get it right. We will still seek guidance from fellow readers and writers to direct us towards worthy writing in a more democratized world, though the means through which we connect with our guides will change.

A lot of crummy writing made its way into print in the past and good writing gets rejected by publishing houses every day (who remembers the news story in 1991 about 22 publishers rejecting _The Yearling_?) Editors and publishers have always had to strike a balance between good quality and popular opinion when choosing books to sell.

Long before the internet, our parents were teaching us that you cannot judge a book by its cover. That will remain true in an electronic world.

Tammi Kibler

mary brady

I recall the "Futurist," Bruce Sterling (?), commenting that "the book"--surely, a paperback book, is just about as perfect a medium for writing as you can get: small, portable, & re-readable by oneself &/or others. I suspect both paper & digital mediums will co-exist, but, still, I do not know anyone with a Kindle or an IPad. It may take quite some time to wean readers off their paper books. You'll be prying mine from my cold, dead hands...I dislike reading off "screens"--it hurts my eyes. Whatever.
Blair, you seem wildly terrified of a world without editors. Why is this? I've tried to read many books published by "major houses" whose contents seem never to have had even a waving acquaintance with an editor. Lots of "edited," published books are terrible.
I think "Infinite Jest," by the late David Foster Wallace, is a prime example. Now here was a book just crying out for a good, no-nonsense editor. However, it seems no one wished to appear so "unhip" as to critique Wallace's "style." Thus, a rambling, incoherent & often extremely boring doorstop of a book was printed, then hailed as the work of a genius.
I like weird, out-there stuff as much as the next person, but not every bloody word of that book was necessary.
An opposite situation occurred with the writer of the short story "Cathedral"--I can't think of his first name, but his last was Carver. You all know him.
HIS "editor" slashed his stories until they were almost meaningless! The New Yorker printed the full version (Carver's version) of "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" about a year ago, and it was SO MUCH better than his "editor's version," which is all that had existed for years. Carver's real story made so much more sense and flowed so well.
Carver's wife is working on a project to release all the original versions of Carver's stories. They should be a revelation. A revelation that his editor should have been shot!
I could go on and on, except I already have. There is nothing more I can say. At least this comment has a happy ending. We're all glad it's over.
Mary B

Sheryl B

I am a bookaholic. I can not imagine not having the paper of the book in my hands. Reading a book on a computer device of any kind is not the same. Please tell me I won't regret donating boxes and boxes of books to my local library--books I had kept for decades.

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