"So Many Books" is not so much a book as a conversation: about books, about reading, about the mad business of how a book is born every 30 seconds. It is a book of proposals and arguments and debate about books, from the age of Socrates to our own. It lets you join the conversation."So Many Books" is not so much a book as a conversation: about books, about reading, about the mad business of how a book is born every 30 seconds. It is a book of proposals and arguments and debate about books, from the age of Socrates to our own. It lets you join the conversation.Read Less
New. Although we rarely question the value of writing, producing, selling, and reading books-after all, books are our passion and our business-never have we experienced such broad confirmation of these activities as we find in So Many Books. Socrates, in the Phaedrus, argued that books undermine our powers of memory and are inferior to conversation. Today's critics are more likely to point to the astounding number of titles published per year in issues of only a few thousand (more than a million) as a troubling development. But essayist Gabriel Zaid, at ease with the philosophy, history, psychology, and business of books, is their match, marshaling amazing facts and figures and constructing original arguments. Among the former are that 81% of Americans want to write a book, that Oxford University Press kept a certain translation from the Coptic into Latin (that sells an average of 2.6 copes/year) in print for 200 years; and that books that will sell for $30 to a few thousand people can't be given away to another ten thousand. Zaid weaves all into an utterly able defense of the book, and its irreplaceable contribution to cultural conversation. Touché, Socrates!
Publishers Weekly, 2003-07-28 "The human race publishes a book every thirty seconds," writes Mexican author and consultant Zaid. How can the average reader keep up with even a fraction of the latest new releases, let alone the multitude of classics stretching all the way back to Homer and Plato? The prospect is daunting to even the greatest bibliophile; furthermore, Zaid argues, people seem more interested in writing books than reading them (a recent survey shows 81% of Americans feel they should write a book). Though frustrated by this state of affairs, Zaid takes a philosophical perspective on the state of book publishing today, claiming that the industry doesn't always recognize one of its greatest strengths: its overwhelming diversity. In the publishing industry, a book that appeals to just a few thousand readers stands a good chance of getting published, whereas the commercial film industry and other mass media must function almost exclusively on a mega-budget scale. He celebrates the small printings that appeal to segmented clienteles, specialized niches, and members of different clubs of enthusiasts because "just a few thousand copies, read by the right people, are enough to change the course of conversation, the boundaries of literature, and our intellectual life." Not a groundbreaking book, but an appealing, meditative collection of thoughts and observations on the book industry and the state of literature in the early 21st century. (Sept.) Forecast: Book lovers of all stripes will enjoy this light piece of cultural criticism. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Copyright in bibliographic data and cover images is held by Nielsen Book Services Limited, Baker & Taylor, Inc., or by their respective licensors, or by the publishers, or by their respective licensors. For personal use only. All rights reserved. All rights in images of books or other publications are reserved by the original copyright holders.