While in a downtown Manhattan Barnes & Noble bookstore one day, I noticed that an entire book case was devoted to poker. Pretty good for a game that was — until somewhat recently — thought of as the pastime of middle-aged men desperate for a couple of hours away from their wives, where they could […]


In spite of chronic financial worries, and the struggle to remain relevant in the face of competing information gateways like Google and Wikipedia, libraries are reporting some of the highest budget and circulation increases in years. And no one is more surprised by this turn of events than the American Library Association. In a recent […]

The Lost Generation?

The day before the sixty-sixth anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pear Harbor, I came across the following tidbit in Cindy Adams’ gossip column in the New York Post: “The History Channel has nixed future WWII programming. They claim: Doesn’t fit our demographics. The History Channel!?” I was knocked for a loop by this. There […]

And the Winner IS . . .

“And the Winner Is…”–You (maybe) Those four words have become part of the American lexicon. Regardless of where you hear them, you immediately think of the Oscars, or the Emmys, or any game show you’ve ever watched. The sound of those four words creates an excitement that’s hard to beat. Whenever you hear, “And the […]

Romance Titles

According to Simba Information’s annual report, Business of Consumer Publishing, the romance category of retail books (most retailers also include “women’s fiction”) generated $1.37 billion dollars, second only to religion book sales. Sales of romance books decreased 2.14% in 2006, marking the second year in a row that sales have slipped. Sales of romances have […]

Classic Literary Fiction

In 2004, the National Endowment for the Arts published “Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America,” in which it predicted that the precipitous decline in literary reading in this country since the 1980’s would lead, ultimately, to its extinction within a generation or two. Given such a gloomy assessment, it was reasonable […]

Beltway Books: T-Minus 53 weeks until Election Day

By Aaron Hierholzer and Matthew Patin The 2008 presidential election might seem far away, but cable news indicates otherwise. This is the first of an oh-so-relevant series about books by or about politicians, wannabe politicians, talking heads, and other myriad wonks. Some weeks there might be a column. Some weeks there might just be what […]

Harry Potter = Death Star

By Matt Patin The Nielsen Company has released a report on the pervasive, indomitable Harry Potter brand in media, PW Daily reports. Most curious in the report is the money made from Potter transubstantiation: U.S. consumers spent $11.8 million on Harry Potter-licensed trademark cookies, candy and gum products since June 2002. Some other highlights: The […]

College Publishing

The college publishing segment seems to be threatened by any number of paradigm-shifting problems: sales of used books and export editions, students increasingly pushing back on high prices and spurring Congress to rhetorical flourishes, if not action, and the U.S. Secretary of Education trying to hold higher education institutions accountable for “positive outcomes” in the […]

Mass Market Paperbacks

Modern mass market paperback publishing began in the U.S. in 1939, when Robert Fair de Graff (and his partners Richard Simon plus Max Schuster) published the first ten Pocket Books for twenty-five cents each. They were a huge hit right out of the gate, with Macy’s selling almost 700 copies before they even reached the […]