Cafe de Paris
Piling saucers with the Boys at the Cafe de Paris

Photo: special thanks to Rosalie Gancie

The universe of cyberspace is charged with blogs; but it is also, shall we say, a generous womb inviting all the cyber-spermatozoa that can to come seek the ovum of your imagination, charming reader. I don’t read blogs, and this is good for you, as reader, because I will host only the kind of blog I’d read myself. There is a lot in the world I don’t know – more than most of it – but I enjoy reducing my ignorance.

The primary purpose of this blog is to assemble an audience for the stories, essays, and plays attached to it, some of which involve Lee Harvey Oswald, St. Augustine, and even Norman Mailer, as pictured above piling saucers of coffee cups with me at the Cafe de Paris. This is now a prime requirement for writers who wish to be published in the obsolescing world of print publication. Print publishers won’t spend a penny to promote the books they publish by authors who do not already command a ready multi-million dollar market (like John Grisham, Doris Kearns Goodwin, etc., etc.). This has been true for some time now and will continue to be true, even for e-book authors. Publishers want you to have a big ready-made market before they will consider you, and following/anticipating them, literary agents now look for that too. You have to start promoting your book not only before it is published, and before you seek an agent – if it’s non-fiction (like Victory Garden Boys: Growing Up in a Suburb of the Cold War), you have to start promoting it even before it is written! If, like Victory Garden Boys, it is already written, you still need to write up a book proposal as though it is not yet written.

I suspect print publishers, on whatever reduced scale, will continue to publish printed books in the familiar format. Unlike granite walls, wax cuneiform tablets, and parchment scrolls, books are convenient to the hand; they’re very handy. There is a complex tactile sensation to holding a paper book, feeling its thickness or thinness, turning pages, inserting a bookmark, even idly gazing at the cover that is different in kind from handling a Kindle, or Nook, or iPad, or whatever will be new. I also suspect that, except maybe for university press books and/or coffee table books, the printing will get cheaper and cheaper, the paper pulpier, the glue less gluey – the hand-life shorter and shorter. I for one do not think this a catastrophe (as long as a writing is preserved somewhere, electronically or otherwise). I think of the kinds of paperbacks that used to be published in France: uniform plain yellow covers and roughly cut pulp pages for everyone – cheap to print in the tens and hundreds of thousands, cheap to buy, easy on the eyes, light in the hand, readily pass-aroundable. That past might be a useful future. (I’m not sure these editions are not still printed in France; but in the one big bookstore I explored on Place St. Michel last August the paperbacks were handsomely covered and pricey.) For the short run, and maybe not so short run, e-books are likely to be hastily consumable bestsellers, plus public domain titles. Other kinds of books, whether printed by a publisher big or small or printed via print-on-demand, will be books of paper.

So I hope Victory Garden Boys: Growing Up in a Suburb of the Cold War (which see under VICTORY GARDEN BOYS) — and for that matter The Short Happy Life of Lee Harvey Oswald and its brethren — will find a print publisher. And so — welcome to this blog!

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