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June 09, 2005

Late Callbacks to Some of the BookExpo Stories

by Ron Hogan

I ran into Jessica Keener at several BookExpo functions last weekend, starting with the Litblog Co-op's packed reception and leading up to the launch party for the International Thriller Writers consortium. Now I see that, in addition to having a fun time, she was working the party for the Boston Globe, and I think she must have gotten quotes from just about every Beantown writer in the room, including a few I never even noticed as Mrs. Beatrice and I made our way through the crowd.

Several people on the convention floor asked me if I'd read Jeffrey Trachtenberg's Wall Street Journal story on the huge economic burden of returns, "the dark side of the book world," on the publishing industry. I hadn't--heck, I barely had time to maintain my fantasy baseball team, let alone read actual news--and I was worried I wouldn't be able to link to it, but then the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette picked up the story, so now you too can be utterly depressed at how "more than one in three adult hardcover books that publishers edit, print, distribute and market" gets sent back to the warehouse." (And, yes, I know that "more than one in three" usually means either two or three, but I'm sure the phrase was just deemed catchier than "34 out of every 100.") At least the whole process, in which books get shipped out to be sold at full price, shipped back when they don't sell, shuttled over to discount warehouses then shipped out again to be placed on the bargain tables, seems to be helping the nation's truck drivers.

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