Leora Skolkin-Smith's first novel, EDGES: O Israel, O Palestine which is being released today, is also Grace Paley's first novel under her Glad Day Books imprint.
Like many other small press and mid size press and large press books, you won't be able to find it in your local BN or Borders.
This has lead to a some interesting conversation at Readerville.com where Skolkin-Smith is a regular. It's a conversation that is particularly timely since last week's release of the new BISGpublication figures. Apparently, there were 195,000 books published last year, up from 175,000 the year before. Of those 25,000 were fiction, up from 15,000 the year before.
My, my, my. We are now at a point where 500 novels are being released weekly.
Is it really any surprise that so many writer's careers are crashing and burning before they ever flared? Or that not every title is stocked in the chains?
As all too many of us sadly know, it's not only Glad Day's EDGES that is not being stocked. There are titles from S&S, RH, TimeWarner, etc not being stocked.
You can't even blame the chains. Think about how many man-hours it takes to sift through 25,000 books a year? And how much real estate is there - even in a superstore - to give shelf space to 500 new books each and every week. (And that's just fiction!)
As readers of this blog know, my point is not that there are too many books. I want to be really clear about this so I am going to obnoxiously repeat it. I'm not saying there are too many books.
But I am saying that there are too many books for the system as it exists now, to deal with.
The navigation system is broken.
The publicity machine is broken.
The methodology to encourage more readership of a more varied group of titles is broken.
The fact that every year 25,000 novelists get a chance to tell their story is amazing and wonderful. What author should we take that chance away from? And what about the thousands more waiting for their chance.
No, I am not advocating less books.
But with the number of books being published there are going to be more and more of them that don't get fairly and adequately vetted by fiction buyers, by reviewers, and by readers.
We have broken systems in place to deal with the books we're publishing. Because of it, readers suffer with choice overload and writers suffer when poor selling books destroy their careers.
My rose colored glasses are on, as usual, and I really do think there are solutions. But I just don't think our industry - neither the publishers nor the booksellers - are ready to sit down at the table all together and spend the money and the time to brainstorm the problem, come up with solutions, and test them.
In the meantime, why not read Skolkin-Smith's backstory for EDGES, the 498th novel published this week.