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Summer Reading…as the LA Times Sees It

Can you hear the bandwagon, the buzz and the hype? All that sound and fury is the mad rush of newspapers, magazines and blogs to trot out their lists of the hottest, sexiest, and scariest summer reads for beach, boudoir and ballpark. Yes, there’s a lot to like. I have already found some “must reads” on the lists, including The Final Storm by Jeff Shaara and The Chieu Hoi Saloon by Michael Harris.

Yet, from my perspective, the LA Times doesn’t “get it.” Neither do most of the other summer reading lists bring disseminated by the older, well-established newspapers and magazines. What we have here is “old media” promoting “old media.” By that, I mean the traditional big boys in the fading world of print are promoting large, old media publishers as though the congomerates are the only game in town.

It’s been an elite club for years. Look at the names of the publishers on the LA Times’ list. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an independent and/or small press publisher in the group. You’ll find Scribner, W. W. Norton, Penguin, Random House, Knopf and William Morrow.

I’ll stipulate that even in a world where many old-line publishers are in trouble, where book stores are failing, and where e-books are overtaking print books in sales, most of the buzz and the books sold are still coming from the old-media conglomerate publishers. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reading opportunities.

Depending on those estimate you like, there are about 300 medium sized pubishers in the U.S. Most of them, much less the small publishers, never appear on the summer reads or the Christmas reads lists. (I was happily surprised to see a McSweeney’s book on the LA Times list.) But otherwise, what a shame, ignoring most of the publishers in the country.

New Pages features a fine list of Independent Publishers and University Presses here. The majority of the reading public either doesn’t know those publishers exist or inaccurately presumes the books coming from them are filled with footnotes and niche-market symbolism and weird experimental stuff. But take a look. See what you’ve been missing.

Alternative Selections

A Heaven of Others by Joshua Cohen from Dzanc Books.

Knuckleheads by Jeff Hass from Dzanc Books.

Bogmeadow’s Wish by Terry Kay from Mercer University Press.

The Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert from Unbridled Books.

Scorpion Bay by Michael Murphy from Second Wind Publishing.

Light Bringer by Pat Bertram from Second Wind Publishing.

Hyphema by Chelle Cordero from Vanilla Heart Publishing.

Maze in Blue by Debra H. Goldstein from Chalet Publishers.

These books ought to be enough to get you started this summer.


Jock Talks…The Collection combines four e-books in one for only $3.99.

Jock Stewart, who refutes charges that he was raised either by alligators or hyenas, believes that modern-day journalism would be going to hell in a hand basket if hand baskets were still readily available. He has chosen to make his stand for old-fashioned reporting at the Junction City Star-Gazer, a newspaper that—while run by fools and buffoons—knows the difference between real news and “stuff that sounds like real news.”

  1. Good article, I read an article this past winter about how Steve Jobs was opposed to the way Amazon was selling ebooks for less. The article said He supported the idea that the prices for ebooks should be the same as for printed books. He was opposed to Amazon selling the ebooks for less. they even discussed ebook authors publishing their own books, or having deals with companies like Amazon, but did not discuss how.

    June 3, 2011
  2. Great article!

    “What we have here is “old media” promoting “old media.” Exactly the same thing is happening in big business and politics. The mechanism thrives because so many people are not up to the effort of thinking for themselves.

    June 3, 2011
    • Yes, we see this kind of behavior a lot. People are led to what the biggest advertisers and media want them to be led to. It takes extra effort to get around it and find something new and fresh.

      June 3, 2011

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