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In the Realm of Authors and Literature

The book publishers have finally and reluctantly agreed upon a code via NRA to govern their industry. The larger publishers are quite satisfied with it but the smaller fellows are dubious and slightly worried. Such subjects as the payment of royalties to authors, price cutting and discounts have been left in status quo. Practically the only innovation introduced concerns the selling by publishers of their overstock.

In the past, when a hopeful publisher printed 5,000 copies of a book and sold 1,000, he found himself with 4,000 copies of an unsaleable book on his hands. This is simple arithmetic and still remains as such, but in the past, the publisher could take his 4,000 copies, call up Max Salop or some other remainder, man, and dispose of these copies for as much or as little as he could get. You, as a book buyer saw these copies in the drug stores and other unlikely places at a greatly reduced price. But now it is not so simple. The publisher can still dispose of his copies but he must wait until at least one year from the date of publication has elapsed.

To a large publisher, keeping a stock on hand for a year is no problem. Being large, he has capital, but the smaller publisher works on a more rigid margin. He is constantly investing his money in new titles. Printing and paper bills must be paid within a certain time, in fact there is a code among the printers and paper manufacturers to that effect. If he issues a book that does not sell abruptly it represents a certain investment and a loss. He then finds that he needs more money to bring out a new book. Where will he get it? In the past if he found himself hard-pressed he called in the remainder-man and raised cash that way, but as things are now arranged, he must wait at least a year before he indulges in that practice. It is true that after the first year under the code he will find himself in the same position that he was before the code was enacted but until then he is in a tight spot and he is unhappy.

RANDOM REMARKS

Talk about publishers’ optimism—one young thing in discussing one of his new titles said to a literary critic a few weeks ago, “Oh, I don’t think it will sell as well as ‘Anthony Adverse,’ I don’t expect it to go over 150,000.” At this writing, the book mentioned has yet to reach the 10,000 mark and it is selling with increasing slowness….

Here is an honest cheer for Gene Fowler’s latest — “Father Goose, The Story of Mack Sennett” easily the most amusing and entertaining book of the season. It is Hollywood at its worst and best….

The latest game being played in publishers’ offices is based on the book advertising linage appearing in the Times and Herald Tribune. The idea is to bet on which paper over a six-day period will carry the most linage. The boys backing the Times now have a slight edge. Three or four months ago it was the other way around….

One publisher last week reported seventy-four requests for review copies of a recent book. Fifty-two of these requests came from Jewish and Anglo-Jewish publications. The book asked for could not possibly be construed as being of any particular Jewish interest….

CITY EDITOR

Young men and women who aspire to become newspaper employees should read Stanley Walker’s “City Editor,” which Stokes published last week. It is true that they will learn next to nothing about how to get a job, but they will be regaled with a grand, exciting and glamorous collection of yarns about the men who write the news. Mr. Walker, who is the city editor of the Herald-Tribune, admits that he is a Tory. He is opposed to the Newspaper Guild and the NRA code for newspapers. He is in favor of better English, more accuracy and more life for the daily prints.

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