Monday, December 15, 2003

The decline and fall of book parties 

Thanks to Publishers Lunch, I got to read a lovely piece of idiotic tripe at New York Magazine all about the sad state of the book party in Manhattan:

“I organized my life around going to two or three a week,” laments a Harvard grad who lives in Cobble Hill. “I’d buy less food, get plenty of girls to hit on and something to read.” When the hors d’oeuvre budget was slashed, he still went. When the girls got less glam, he hung on. But now that there are hardly ever books to take home, what, he asks, is the point?

Granted, my only experience of book parties are in the world of crime fiction, and perhaps genre novels don't inspire the same bit of hobnobbery and high expectations. For one thing, free books? Really? I've yet to actually see such a thing in action. I went to one such launch party in London and the books were all there to be had, but it was understood that at some point, we'd have to pay for them (of course, maybe that's why no one took the books that night; or, like me, they already owned the book in question and didn't need an extra copy.) Maybe it's me, but the time to get a free book is before publication or at some awards or another. Take the Edgars. I suspect a fair number of people pony up to pay the $150 bucks for the dinner in order to get their hands on as many free stuff as possible. Though that being the case, it's always interesting to note which books get scarfed up quickly and which books languish. Some are expected, others quite surprising.

It's almost de rigeur to bash the magazine, but with articles like these, who needs reality?

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